DV Housing Support

Housing issues are a frequent worry shared by victims of abuse. It is common for survivors to experience financial abuse and have their credit negatively impacted. This can make leaving the relationship or finding new housing tough. Seeking shelter is not always an option, but many people are not aware of what other housing resources are available or how to access them. Whether a survivor wants their abusive partner to leave or they want to leave themselves, housing support is available.

When shelter isn’t an option

It’s often believed that going to a shelter is the best way for a survivor to escape abuse and find a safer place. However, seeking shelter is not always best for some people, and there can be challenges in going to a shelter. Reasons a shelter may not work are:

  • The shelter is at capacity and cannot accommodate more people
  • It doesn’t have space for children, especially older ones. The survivor may also fear a CPS report being made if they take their children
  • The shelter may not allow pets
  • A shelter may have specific rules about going back and forth to work
  • The survivor may feel uncomfortable in a shelter
  • A survivor can possibly only stay at the shelter for a specific period of time, which can be a challenge if the survivor struggles to find other housing

Each shelter has different requirements and rules, so it’s important to ask the shelter questions to make sure it fits your needs.

Having an abusive partner removed from the home

For many survivors, leaving home is not an option. They might own the home or be the ones paying all the bills. They also might find it unfair that they must leave when they are experiencing abuse (which is very valid!). They may want to have the abusive partner removed from the house.

If a survivor wants to remove their partner, they need to consider squatters’ rights. Squatters’ rights can be used by an abusive partner to claim they can live in the home or apartment even if their name is not on any paperwork. These rights vary from state to state, but squatters’ rights usually apply when:

  • The property is personal
  • They live on that property exclusively
  • They live on the property long enough to meet the state’s requirement to be recognized as a squatter (rather than a trespasser)
  • The rightful owner of the property does not try to evict them or remove them within that specific length of time.

Filing a protective order (PO) can sometimes be an option for having a partner who causes harm removed. However, when a protection order is granted, it has to be served to the person. Some locations will not serve a protection order when the abuser is living with the victim. It is important to note that in some states, a PO does not guarantee the removal of the abusive partner from the home.

Speaking with a legal advocate in your area is helpful to determine if your partner is protected under squatters’ rights. They can also tell you if a PO will be effective or what other steps to take to remove them.

While some survivors of domestic violence want their abusive partner to leave, others may want to find their own place to live. Housing support resources like transitional housing, rapid re-housing and bedlines, housing tax credits, or financial aid are available to survivors.

Transitional housing

Transitional housing is temporary housing support that can last from a couple of weeks to a few years. Transitional housing is different in each state and the requirements to qualify may vary. The goal of this program is to aid those affected by abuse, trauma, or addiction by giving them a chance to rebuild their lives. Though temporary, this can be helpful for survivors who want their own place to live but need help for a period of time.

One challenge many survivors face when they need housing support is finding the programs. Sites like Transitionalhousing.org or 211.org can help survivors find resources in their area. Our advocates are also available 24/7 to offer insight and guidance.

Rapid Re-Housing

Another housing support program is Rapid Re-Housing. This type of housing provides short-term rental assistance and services. Rapid Re-Housing focuses on helping people obtain housing quickly. This program is offered without preconditions such as employment, income, absence of criminal record, or sobriety. To see if your area offers Rapid Re-Housing, and for more information, you can call 211.


States tend to offer various types of shelters, such as emergency, family, youth, and homeless shelters, which can include bedline services. Bedlines are often like homeless shelters in their setup, unlike family shelters that often offer rooms. For bed line services, you can reach out to Safe Link.

Federal financial aid

Another form of housing support available to survivors is government aid. Low-Income Tax Credit Housing (LIHTC) is one option. This affordable housing is overseen by the IRS, where residents pay lower rents. This happens because the developers of these communities received private investment dollars for the construction of the properties in exchange for federal tax credits.

Section 8 housing is a program subsidized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Residents pay what they can afford (typically 30% of their monthly adjusted income), and HUD will then pay the difference between that amount and what a unit typically rents for. You can reach out to your local Housing Authority office to apply.

Both LIHTC and Section 8 housing have income limits, so it’s important to speak with a housing specialist or an apartment finder to see if you qualify for the type of housing you are interested in. Some Apartment Finders have a list of local apartments that are part of the tax credit housing initiative. You can also call your local apartments directly to ask if they are part of the tax credit housing initiative. When you find an apartment that is, you can ask which ‘percentage unit’ you qualify for and whether there are any available.

Other financial aid

One other housing support option that can help survivors is direct financial aid. Some DV programs or other agencies offer direct financial assistance to survivors. These funds can be used however they need. Although the amounts given do vary, a survivor could potentially use these funds as a security deposit for a new place or to pay rent.

Finding housing support is a vital part of living a life that is free from abuse. Whether you live with an abusive partner and are exploring options, or have left and need housing support, our advocates are available 24/7 through phone, text, or chat. You are not alone.