Do you consider domestic violence a cause to homelessness in the United States? You may be surprised to learn that domestic violence is a common factor in homelessness for single adults and families. It decreases job stability, threatens financial stability, and interferes with the victim’s abilities to form supportive relationships to escape the abuse. In many cases, domestic violence is the immediate
cause of their homelessness, and the two are tightly interwoven.
In Los Angeles, domestic violence (DV) and homelessness are strongly correlated as
evidenced by the 2019 Homeless Count report published by Los Angeles Homeless
Services Agency (LAHSA). In Los Angeles County, there was a 28% increase among
individuals/families who were homeless due to fleeing a domestic violence situation.
The City of Los Angeles reported a 42% increase among homeless individuals/families reporting either current incidences or experience of DV. According to the National LowIncome Housing Coalition, the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in LA is $1,670; requiring an annual income of $66,520 or $31.98 per hour; a household would need three minimum wage job earners to afford such rent. These staggering figures make it extremely difficult for low-income individuals and families to secure and maintain affordable housing, especially for DV survivors during COVID-19. Domestic Violence survivors face unique barriers regarding safety, confidentiality, and dealing with trauma.
When victims do flee, many times from a lethal incident, they flee to domestic violence
Emergency Shelters or fall into homelessness when these resources are not available.
It comes down to this – when victims make the hard decision to leave and reach out for
help, they must be able to find safety and support if they are to escape domestic
Serving domestic violence survivors begins with availability and access to safe, physical
spaces to support survivors and their children. In fact, 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 reentering their own independent housing.
To help our clients find safe housing, Haven Hills has Housing Navigators. Our Housing
Navigators are case managers that assesses, coordinate and monitor housing plans for
clients in all three of our programs. Their job is to advocate with landlords, homeless
service providers and housing partners to find clients permanent and stable housing
once they leave our facilities.
Our housing efforts include our two shelter programs (Crisis and Transitional Housing) and our Housing First program which assist clients in securing safe, permanent, and affordable housing upon exit from our shelters and individuals and families in the community. Since 2019, we have provided over $1million dollars ($1,026,645) to 243 households, including 125 families and 118 single individuals (243 adults / 170 children). In addition, 42 clients received financial support for education, materials,
household utilities and other flexible funding to support their housing efforts. Clients
report the support has changed their lives and helped them feel more confident when
transitioning out of our shelters, allowing them to focus on employment or educational
aspirations to maintain their housing upon exit. The greatest benefit is the flexible,
financial assistance to help with deposits, utilities, and dealing with emergency costs.
Short-term financial assistance to secure and maintain housing can change the
trajectory of a family in so many ways – leading them to live safe, healthy, and happy
lives; and most importantly ending the cycle of violence. Effectiveness at Haven Hills
has been demonstrated mainly by placement of survivors in safe, permanent housing
without the abuser; there has been a notable increase with the implementation of this
program since 2018.
Much like healing trauma and abuse, finding affordable, safe housing is crucial to
helping survivors reduce 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. 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.
We urge victims to leave their abusers, we even go so far as to tell them they must
leave, yet where should they go? Survivors are entitled to a clear pathway to housing
that will help them get back on the road to self-sufficiency.