Domestic violence and homelessness go hand in hand

Mom holding boy's hand

Women and children are not part of the homeless communities we typically see in our region. You don’t pass by them on your way to work or see them at a freeway on-ramp. Yet about half of homeless people are families, and domestic violence remains a leading cause of homelessness among women and children in the U.S. today.

“Eighty percent of homeless women with children have experienced domestic violence,” said Rachel Krinsky, LifeWire’s Executive Director. “Right here in Washington state, families with children represent nearly half of the 20,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night.”

Housing Services for survivors

In just the last five years, LifeWire has helped more than 1,000 families avoid homelessness and remain in safe and stable housing. On Friday, September 22, 2017, LifeWire will spotlight its Housing Stability Services’ success through the stories of several survivors, including children, at our 35th Anniversary Hope Starts Here Breakfast.

One survivor – Rebecca – will share her story about how LifeWire’s flexible housing funds helped her safely leave her abusive husband while remaining in safe and stable housing.

“As an immigrant – and because my husband had managed our finances and demanded control over our money – I didn’t know where to start when it came to looking for an apartment,” said Rebecca. “My LifeWire advocate sent me listings of apartments that were in my price range. Finally, I found a place. I knew I could afford my own rent eventually, but my husband and I had a joint banking account. I couldn’t use any of the money without him finding out. I’ll never forget when my advocate told me that LifeWire would cover everything: the deposit, the first and last month’s rent, and the move-in costs. I was overwhelmed with gratitude.”

Financial barriers to housing

Survivors of domestic violence face significant barriers to accessing housing. Years of financial abuse can lead to poor credit and eviction filings, making it nearly impossible to pass background checks for new housing. Other survivors, like Rebecca, are unable to access their own money and risk homelessness if they choose to leave their abusive partners.

“At LifeWire, we’ve developed a wide range of housing services, coupled with financial support, that are uniquely designed to meet the needs of domestic violence survivors,” said Maria Williams, LifeWire’s Services Director. “Whether it’s a hotel voucher for just one night, emergency shelter for up to one year, or permanent rent subsidies, we are able to offer survivors whatever they need to keep themselves and their children off the streets and in safe and stable housing. Our goal is to eliminate the impossible or difficult choice survivors often have to face: remain in an unsafe and abusive relationship or leave and become homeless.”