October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and, as housing providers, it is important to explore the intersection between domestic violence and affordable housing options. The connection between domestic violence and housing insecurity is indisputable. The absence of safe and affordable housing often appears as one of the primary barriers survivors of domestic violence face when they choose to leave an abusive partner.
Domestic violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness for women and their children, people experiencing domestic violence with limited resources are more likely to experience homelessness. While emergency shelters confront a survivor’s immediate safety needs and transitional housing provides short-term housing with supportive services, affordable housing provides permanent housing security. Affordable housing, like those found at the Greater Albuquerque Housing Partnership (GAHP), are an important resource for survivors exiting a domestic violence situation because it provides housing that is affordable and enrichment services that can help connect survivors with needed resources as they pursue housing stability.
“At any given moment you have the power to say this is not how the story is going to end.” ― Christine Mason Miller
Unfortunately, survivors of domestic and sexual violence often face housing discrimination because of stereotypes that their presence at the property poses safety threats. Discrimination can be shown by being denied admission to or being evicted from housing due to acts of violence committed against survivors. This discrimination threatens housing security for survivors and their families who are exiting abusive situations. However, since President Biden signed into law the VAWA Reauthorization Act of 2022, there have been housing solutions to support domestic violence resulting in a decline in domestic violence incidents, and efforts to increase access to services and justice for survivors have significantly improved.
A local resource is the Domestic Violence Resource Center (DVRC) which offers education and prevention services such as group counseling, Safe Shelter/Safety Planning, Emergency Restraining Orders/Orders of Protection, and Connections to Community Resources (legal assistance, housing assistance programs, clothing and food).
The VAWA Transitional Housing program, administered by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) supports critical interim housing programs that help victims, and their families rebuild their lives after escaping abuse.
The Domestic Violence bonus funds in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Continuum of Care (COC) Homelessness Assistance grant program provide rapid rehousing and other housing options to survivors.
Safe housing should be a pathway to freedom and not a barrier for domestic violence survivors. If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline. This hotline is available 24/7 to talk confidentially with anyone experiencing domestic violence.