Understanding the connection between domestic violence and homelessness.
Domestic Violence and Homelessness
A domestic violence experience is common among youth, single adults and families who become homeless and for many it is the immediate cause of their homelessness. Survivors of domestic violence may turn to homeless service programs seeking a safe temporary place to stay after fleeing an abusive relationship. Others may turn to homeless service programs primarily because they lack the economic resources to secure or maintain housing after leaving an abusive relationship.
Data is limited, but recent statistics suggest that on a single night in January 2016, 12 percent of the overall homeless population, 70,000 people, reported having experienced domestic violence at some point. Research from a study in New York City indicates that one in five families experienced domestic violence in the five years before entering shelter. Among families that reported domestic violence in the prior five years, 88 percent reported that it contributed to their homelessness “a lot.”
Solutions: Crisis, Short- and Long-Term Housing Services
The immediate need of a survivor fleeing domestic violence is safety. Some survivors may be able to safely stay in their own home with some additional financial support through rental assistance while others may require a stay in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program before re-entering their own independent housing.
Short- or long-term rental assistance can be used to help survivors exit shelter and regain housing. Having an affordable place to call home is crucial for this population, to both reduce their risk of homelessness as well as the possibility of future violence. Research indicates that families that receive a housing subsidy after exiting homelessness are far less likely to experience interpersonal violence than those that do not.
Beyond addressing their immediate safety and housing needs, survivors of domestic violence require supportive services that can help them heal from the trauma of abuse and improve their economic security and well-being.