Emergency housing for domestic violence victims
Domestic violence is one of the leading causes of housing instability and homelessness for survivors and their children. The threat of homelessness on domestic violence survivors increases danger, as they must find ways of meeting the basic survival needs of shelter, food, and clothing while escaping their abusive partners. Although safe or emergency housing for domestic violence victims can provide freedom, many barriers prevent survivors from obtaining or maintaining safe and affordable housing. Survivors often escape the dynamics of abuse and financial control. This can be further exacerbated by discrimination, language access, confidentiality needs, rural isolation, immigration status, and disability – against the backdrop of this country’s broadly affordable housing crisis.
The impacts of housing insecurity
Homelessness and housing insecurity are increasingly prevalent and affect survivors’ health, safety, and well-being. Domestic violence is both a cause and a consequence of homelessness. Studies show that 57% of homeless women report domestic violence as their immediate cause of homelessness. More than 90% of homeless women have experienced severe physical or sexual abuse at some point, and 63% have been victims of domestic or sexual violence.
Housing instability and homelessness are closely intertwined. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, housing instability encompasses several challenges, including having trouble paying rent, overcrowding, moving frequently, or spending most of the household income on housing. These experiences negatively affect physical health and make it harder to access health care. Housing instability may be more prevalent among children and those who have spent time in prison.
- Literally homeless
- Imminent risk of homelessness
- Homeless under other federal statutes
- Fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence
Nowhere to turn
In 2022, over 16,611 domestic violence survivors reported homelessness when they reached out to The Hotline and had nowhere to go. This is a 114% increase compared to 2021. That same year, 31,401 domestic violence survivors reported housing insecurity, a 47% increase compared to 2021. Approximately 84.5% of domestic violence survivors had unmet housing requests. Emergency shelters became the top need of all Hotline contacts and the most urgent need for domestic violence survivors.
The lack of access to safe and affordable housing often leads survivors to stay in or return to abusive relationships. According to the ACLU, 46% of homeless women reported staying in abusive relationships because they had nowhere to turn. Additionally, 44% of homeless women reported remaining in an abusive relationship at some point in the past two years. This is because they had no other housing options, and their abusive relationship provided consistent access to a stable living environment.
Housing issues are a frequent worry for abuse victims. Survivors often experience financial abuse that negatively impacts their credit. This can make leaving the relationship or finding new housing for domestic violence victims tough. Many people are unaware of what housing resources might be available. Some survivors may seek emergency shelters, use hotel vouchers, enter transitional housing, or rapid re-housing. They may also access short- or long-term rental assistance or mortgage assistance. Federal, state, and local laws provide housing rights and protections for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. Whether a survivor wants the abusive partner to leave or wants to go themselves, housing support is out there.
Contact the Hotline to speak confidentially with an advocate. Our advocates are available 24/7 and 365 days a year via phone, chat, or text. We can help you locate domestic violence shelters and local resources and create a safety plan.
You know your situation best, so only you know which options are safe. Remember, you are not alone.
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