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|Domestic violence survivors make up about 12 percent of the sheltered homeless population.|
Domestic violence is the immediate cause of homelessness for many women. Survivors of domestic violence are often isolated from support networks and financial resources by their abusers, which puts them at risk of becoming homeless. As a result, they may lack steady income, employment history, credit history, and landlord references. They also often suffer from anxiety, panic disorder, major depression, and substance abuse.
Studies also suggest that many women experiencing homelessness are survivors of domestic violence, even if it not the cause of their homelessness. One study in Massachusetts found that 92 percent of homeless women had experienced severe physical or sexual assault at some point in their lives, 63 percent had been victims of violence by an intimate partner, and 32 percent had been assaulted by their current or most recent partner. Such studies suggest a correlation between domestic violence and homelessness.
Survivors of domestic violence have both short- and long-term housing needs. Immediately, survivors require safe housing away from the abuser. Ultimately, the family requires access to safe, stable, affordable housing.
A strong investment in affordable housing is crucial to this population, so that the family or woman is able to leave the shelter system as quickly as possible without returning to the abuser. One key challenge facing providers serving survivors of domestic violence is that safety and confidentiality concerns may make it difficult to track this group.