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.
Data is limited, but recent statistics suggest that nationally on a single night in January 2017, 16% of the overall homeless population, 87,329 people, reported having experienced domestic violence at some point. Locally in the 2018 LA County Point in Time Count of the homeless population, more than 3,000 homeless individuals reported being homeless due to fleeing domestic violence.
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 violence.
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 re-entering their own independent housing.
To help our clients find safe housing, Haven Hills has added a Housing Navigator to its staff. Our Housing Navigator, Princess, is a case manager that assesses, coordinates and monitors housing plans for clients in all three of our programs. Her job is to advocate with landlords, homeless service providers and housing partners to find clients permanent and stable housing once they leave our facilities.
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.
Princess Jones, Housing Navigator