Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children. Survivors of domestic violence are four times more likely to experience housing instability than people who haven’t experienced abuse.
Beginning in 2009, LifeWire participated in a three-year pilot project called Domestic Violence Housing First. The goal was to get survivors into stable housing as quickly as possible and then provide them with the support they needed to rebuild their lives. The pilot was wildly successful. Eighteen months after entering the program, 96 percent of participants had stable housing. Today, countless other organizations across the country have adopted the DV Housing First model.
Building off models that work
DV Housing First brought together two philosophies: Housing First and survivor-driven advocacy. Housing First programs begin by getting or keeping people in affordable housing and then connecting them to other resources and services like mental health support and job training. Survivor-driven advocacy focuses on enhancing survivors’ safety and self-determination by offering them information and choices and supporting their strengths and decisions.
Nearly 98% of survivors have experienced some form of financial abuse. DV Housing First programs like our Housing Stability program recognize this and try and make it as easy as possible for survivors to get into housing. We don’t ask survivors to prove anything. They don’t have to show us pay stubs or police reports; we believe them and put our money into action.
Flexible funds lead to stability
Flexible funding is a vital part of DV Housing First. Many times survivors already know what they need to keep or find stable housing. Sometimes that means we pay for a locksmith or utilities so they can stay in place or for a car repair so they can keep their job. Often, it’s helping out with a security deposit or a few month’s rent so they can focus on other things that will lead to long-term stability.
Survivors who find housing stability are less vulnerable to future abuse, have lower levels of PTSD and depression, feel safer, and enjoy a higher quality of life.