Transitional Housing Programs and Empowering Survivors of Domestic Violence

November 1, 2019

As Domestic Violence Awareness Month comes to a close, I want to take a moment to highlight the importance of Transitional Housing and wrap around services for victims of domestic violence. On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. In one year, this equates to more than 10 million victims.

Domestic violence is one of the primary causes of homelessness for women and their children in the United States. According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, between 22 and 57 percent of women and children are homeless due to domestic violence, with 38 percent of all victims experiencing homeless at some point in their lives due to domestic violence.  Victims who leave their abusive partner multiple times due to domestic violence often experience multiple events of homelessness. 

When a victim of domestic violence chooses to leave their abusive partner, safe and affordable housing is one of the primary barriers they will face for themselves and their children.  In a one day survey conducted in 2016, more than 41,000 adults and children fleeing domestic violence found refuge in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs.  Out of 11,991 unmet requests that day for domestic violence services, 66 percent were for housing and shelter. In another nationwide study, more than half (51.5 percent) of the victims who identified a need for housing services did not receive them.

Though emergency shelters can be a source of immediate short-term safety, transitional housing programs offer victims a housing option and supportive services—including counseling, childcare, transportation, life skills, education and/or job training—for up to 24 months.  It is a safe, affordable option that empowers survivors to begin rebuilding their lives after fleeing abuse.  Transitional housing programs give survivors the time and services they need to achieve goals for long-term safety and stability.  Without these programs, survivors may have no other option than to return to their abuser’s home or face homelessness. 

The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) currently administers 19 grant programs authorized by the Violence Against Women Act. Among these is the Transitional Housing Assistance Grants for Victims of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking (Transitional Housing Program). The Transitional Housing Program supports projects that provide 6-24 months of transitional housing with support services for victims who are homeless or in need of transitional housing due to domestic violence. Eligible grantees are states, units of local government, Indian tribes, and other organizations with a documented history of effective work concerning domestic violence.  In fiscal year 2019, the Transitional Housing Program awarded 75 grant awards totaling $30,429,573.

The Transitional Housing Program supports economic empowerment and survivor autonomy while using a voluntary services model.  While the solutions to addressing domestic violence and its related consequences must encompass a broad range of interventions and options for domestic violence survivors, strategies must be trauma-informed and survivor-centered.  If our goal is to truly empower survivors of domestic violence they must be provided with the tools to establish economic self-sufficiency, short-term goal-setting, and long-term planning for their futures.

OVW expects to release the FY 2020 Transitional Housing Solicitation in late 2019.  Please visit the OVW https://www.justice.gov/ovw/how-apply for this solicitation and other OVW funding opportunities.

Sources:

[1] 16 Things You May Not Know About Housing for Survivors:  https://nnedv.org/latest_update/16-things-may-not-know-housing-survivors/

[2] Domestic Violence, Housing, and Homelessness: https://nnedv.org/mdocs-posts/domestic-violence-housing-and-homelessness/

[3] Statistics:  https://ncadv.org/statistics

[4] NNEDV, “Domestic Violence Counts: 11th Annual Census Report,”   https://nnedv.org/content/domestic-violence-counts-11th-annual-census-report/

[5] National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): http://www.preventconnect.org/2014/02/need-to-prevent-intimate-partner-violence/; https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs/

[6] The Impact of Safe Housing on Survivors of Domestic Violence:  https://nnedv.org/spotlight_on/impact-safe-housing-survivors/

[7] Discretionary Grant Programs, Transitional Housing Assistance Grants for Victims of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Stalking, or Sexual Assault Program:  https://www.justice.gov/ovw/grant-programs

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Updated November 1, 2019