Domestic violence is the immediate cause of homelessness for many women. According to an article in the Journal of American Medical Women's Association, "the interrelated nature of domestic violence and homelessness is undeniable: 92% of homeless women have experienced severe physical or sexual abuse at some point in their lives, and 63% have been victims of intimate partner violence as adults." They struggle to find permanent housing after fleeing abusive relationships. Many have left in the middle of the night with nothing but the clothes on their backs and their children in tow. They often lack steady income, employment history, credit history, and landlord references. Their abuser may also control access to their finances. In the short run, survivors need safe shelter away from their abusers, but ultimately, these families require access to safe, stable, affordable housing in order to rebuild their lives.
Communities are increasingly using Housing First and rapid re-housing to meet the needs of domestic violence survivors. Unfortunately, affordable housing is not plentiful in most communities, and federal funds for programs such as the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program (HPRP) are no longer available. As a result, domestic violence victims are staying longer in emergency domestic violence shelters, which are usually full and and maintain a log of the constant flow of families they must turn away.
"To reduce family homelessness, let's work together to create more affordable housing..."
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It is a time to celebrate survivors, congratulate and connect advocates, empower victims, and mourn the deaths of those lost to domestic violence. It is also time to take action! To reduce family homelessness, let's work together to create more affordable housing, and to raise community awareness, let's wear purple for #PurpleThursday -- Thursday, October 22nd. If we take a stand and work together, we can end domestic violence and homelessness.