Ending Homelessness Today — Domestic Violence
Field Notes: Letting Survivors Lead the Way
October 31, 2012
Last month I had the opportunity to attend a training workshop on rapidly re-housing survivors of domestic violence. The workshop was conducted by Kris Billhardt, Director of Volunteers of America, Oregon’s Home Free program, who is a longtime advocate and has worked in the movement against domestic violence for nearly three decades. Her program has achieved some impressive results. From 2010 to 2011, 90 percent of the survivors who received Housing First services from Home Free attained safe, permanent housing, and 80 percent remain safely housed 12 months after exiting the program.
If you want to learn more about Home Free, you can read this best practice paper on Home Free, check out our domestic violence toolkit, or contact Kris about conducting a training workshop in your community.
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Domestic Violence and the Housing First model
October 25, 2012
Today’s guest blog post was contributed by the Ankita Patel of the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
I’ve been working on Domestic Violence Housing First for a couple of years now. But I also have a lot of experience working with immigrants. In general, I’ve found that trying to address the needs of immigrant survivors by just tweaking a mainstream system isn’t enough. One of my favorite things about Domestic Violence Housing First is that the flexibility of the housing first model allows individually tailored services that encompass a person’s culture as well as their unique needs and situation.
For example, one of the pillars of our work in Domestic Violence Housing First has been tailored, mobile advocacy. This approach involves an advocate visiting a survivor’s home rather than requiring the survivor to visit an advocate’s office. So we were caught off-guard when an advocate from another provider serving immigrants told us that her version of tailored, mobile advocacy sometimes meant inviting survivors to her office. Initially, that didn’t make sense to me.
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The Link Between Homelessnees and Domestic Violence
October 18, 2012
Today’s guest blog post was contributed by Caroline Jones, Executive Director for Doorways for Women and Families.
Many of us know of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We have become accustomed to seeing pink everywhere and hearing the public services announcements in the Fall. Fewer people are aware that October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I often lament the fact that these two critical women’s issues have to share just one month of the year, as both deserve our full attention 365 days a year.
The extensive reach of domestic violence is shocking. Today, one in four women and girls will experience domestic violence at some point in their life. Yet this epidemic rarely makes the local or national news unless it affects a celebrity or public figure. We hear their voices, but we don’t hear the voices of the millions of women – and men – who suffer daily with sexual, emotional, psychological, financial and physical abuse. What if the only place you had to call home was where someone was causing you and your children harm? Domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness among women because victims are often left with a difficult choice: either stay with the abuser or become homeless.
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Home. Means. Safety.
October 11, 2012
Today’s guest blog was contributed by Peg Hacskaylo, the Executive Director of the District Alliance for Safe Housing, Inc. (DASH), the largest dedicated housing provider for victims of domestic and sexual violence in the District of Columbia. For more information about DASH, visit www.dashdc.org.
Trudy had been living in an apartment with her boyfriend and their son for about 2 years when the abuse from her boyfriend became more frequent and more intense. She wanted to move out but couldn’t afford to live on her income from her job as a cashier at a local retail store. One night, when her boyfriend had another violent outburst, Trudy called the police. When they arrived, an advocate was with them to help her determine what services she needed. She said she couldn’t stay in their home because, if her boyfriend went to jail, she couldn’t afford the rent and, if her boyfriend was released, she wouldn’t feel safe there. So the advocate placed her and her son in a hotel paid for by compensation available to crime victims. She could stay at the hotel for up to 30 days while she tried to figure out what she would do.
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Preventing the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Youth
October 09, 2012
The following article originally appeared in the Missing and Exploited Children’s Program Newsletter, October 1, 2012.
Although current data on the extent of youth homelessness are limited, previous studies have estimated that approximately 1.7 million youth under the age of 18 have run away or are homeless in the United States each year. Several factors contribute to young people leaving home. One of the primary factors is intense family conflict, which can take the form of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or non-acceptance of a youth’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
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The Alliance Recognizes Domestic Violence Awareness Month
October 01, 2012
October is domestic violence awareness month, which presents us with an opportunity to reflect on how domestic violence impacts the lives of people we serve. Many people enter the homeless service system fleeing domestic violence, and many more have experienced domestic violence in their past. As we work to improve our local homeless service system, we need to ensure that it is responsive to the needs of these survivors.
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Workshops on Ending Homelessness for Survivors of Domestic Violence
May 21, 2012
This coming July, the Alliance’s National Conference on Ending Homelessness to be held in Washington, DC, will feature a variety of workshops that are designed to help domestic violence service providers find ways to better meet the housing needs of survivors in their programs as well as help homeless service provides better provide safety and services to survivors in their housing programs.
To kick off the conference, the Alliance is hosting a pre-conference session that is intended for homeless service providers who are interested in more effectively addressing the needs of survivors in their housing programs. The session will address increasing safety for survivors, best practices for case managers, and developing successful partnerships that benefit survivors. Speakers in the session will be from domestic violence programs that successfully implement a variety of housing models and are experts in adapting those housing models to survivors. While preregistration for this session is not required, we are asking that interested persons email their intent to attend this preconference session to Samantha Batko at email@example.com so that we can track anticipated attendance.
Additionally, throughout the conference, participants will find content on better serving survivors in a number of sessions, including, but not limited to those focusing on:
Successful partnerships between domestic violence serving agencies, homelessness assistance programs, and employment programs,
Overarching strategies for ending family homelessness and rapid re-housing for survivors,
Research on homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing,
Development of and impl... Read More »
On The Road: Rapid Re-Housing for Survivors of Domestic Training in Connecticut
May 04, 2012
I used to work in the Alliance’s Center for Capacity Building and spent a lot of time in local communities working with providers and local governments to implement rapid re-housing programs. About a year and a half ago I shifted to our policy team and the amount of time I spent in communities doing trainings decreased significantly. I spend much more time up on the Hill now—educating Congressional staff and analyzing federal programs and policies to try and improve the national response to homelessness. This week provided me with the opportunity to get back out in the field and talk to providers about a topic I am particularly passionate about—making sure that survivors of domestic violence are able to safely access the housing they need to move forward in their lives.
Yesterday, I presented at the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness’ (CCEH’s) 10th Annual Training Institute in Meriden, CT. Approximately 300 attendees representing homeless service providers and government agencies from throughout Connecticut attend the training institute to learn about what is happening on the federal and state level as well as learn about successful strategies being implemented by other communities in the state.
I was joined in my session by Shakeita Boyd from the District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH) in Washington, DC and we presented on the basics of the rapid re-housing model, survivor specific adaptations to the model, examples of successful programs, and systems level consideration... Read More »
Senate Passes Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
April 30, 2012
On Thursday, April 26, the U.S. Senate voted to pass S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 in a vote of 68 to 31. This reauthorization, sponsored by Senator Leahy from Vermont and co-sponsored by 61 bipartisan Members of the Senate, has stronger language to help protect LGBT, tribal, and immigrant survivors which gained the bill its 31 “nays” in the Senate and fairly wide media attention.
Perhaps of more importance in the field of homelessness assistance is another provision of the bill, it would provide particular protections for survivors in a variety of HUD programs. Current law provides survivors with protections from eviction and the opportunity to transfer in Section 8 and Public Housing. This reauthorization bill would extend those protections to a variety of other HUD programs, including McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance grant, Sections 202 and 811, and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, among others. And, if transfer is not possible, it requires HUD to establish a policy for how a survivor can access a Section 8 voucher instead.
VAWA was first passed in 1994 and since then has created a number of successful programs to help protect survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. One of those programs, the Office of Violence Against Women’s (OVW) Transitional Housing Grants administered by the Department of Justice helps survivors leave abusers and access safe housing with voluntary support services to help the survivor and their family stabilize in housing. Providers who implement these progr... Read More »
The Importance of Stable Housing for Survivors of Domestic Violence
April 03, 2012
A little over a year ago, the Alliance released a paper on using a rapid re-housing model to end homelessness for survivors of domestic violence. This paper was based on the successes and lessons learned by community programs using a rapid re-housing model to serve survivors.
One of the programs featured in that paper and also featured in a separate best practice on the Alliance website is Home Free, a Volunteers of America – Oregon program. Home Free recently participated in a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study that examined the link between stable housing and domestic violence.
Recently, the Alliance hosted a webinar that highlighted some of the findings from that study, including that as housing stability increased:
Women and children were safer,
Women had greater job stability and improved income, and
Children missed fewer days in school and displayed fewer behavior problems.
Perhaps most strikingly, when women who participated in the study were asked what made the biggest difference in their life, they said “having housing.” And, when asked what agencies did that was the most helpful, they stated the provision of housing services.
If that weren’t enough, the study also estimated the cost savings of housing survivors on the basis of decreases in their need of emergency services, including police, emergency medical care, and safety net programs. The total savings for emergency systems based on estimated costs was $535,000.
To learn more, please join the Alliance’s next webinar on A... Read More »