Every day vulnerable people fleeing domestic violence are denied shelter. It’s not because they don’t need it or because they are ineligible. It is simply because there is no room.
Domestic violence programs are designed to provide safe refuge and support to people escaping violence. Some require the safety of a crisis housing program for a few days, others require more time before they feel safe and prepared to return to housing in the community.
Too often stays in domestic violence programs are not dictated by survivors’ needs, but instead a lack of options. With challenging housing markets all across the country, it can take a long time for survivors to find new housing opportunities when they are ready to move on. And, when stays are longer, there is less capacity to help other survivors.
The recent HUD NOFA provides an opportunity to address both problems by: 1) increasing crisis housing capacity for survivors of domestic violence; and 2) providing the help those survivors need to return to housing in the community, when they determine they are ready to do so.
The “joint component” provides a new model to address both of these concerns. It allows single-site transitional housing programs to provide both crisis housing AND rapid re-housing as a single funding project.
The primary goal is not to facilitate long-term stays in temporary housing (although safety concerns may require some longer-term stays), but to instead allow transitional housing resources (buildings and staff) to be used effectively to help address the crisis housing needs of survivors and other populations endangered by a lack of shelter capacity. It would also ensure that there are resources available as soon as the survivor desires them, to help them identify, secure, and pay for their new permanent home through the provision of rapid re-housing.
Communities should carefully explore whether reallocating existing single-site transitional housing programs to a joint component project could allow them to improve the local response to people experiencing homelessness – particularly those who face particularly dire choices when there is no shelter option. Those interested in learning more are encouraged to listen to a recent webinar the Alliance held exploring the use of the Joint Component.