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Housing and Battered Women

This paper offers a research on DV and homelessness and trends in federal housing policy. A model for conducting a community assessment of local housing needs includes critical thinking questions on an organization’s capacity for housing advocacy.

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VAWnet Summary:

Housing and Battered Women by Amy Correia and Jen Rubin (November 2001)

The purpose of this paper is to increase the domestic violence advocacy community's knowledge about housing issues, federal housing programs and strategies to comprehensively address battered women's needs for housing. The paper provides a short review of the research about domestic violence and homelessness, trends in federal support for housing and changes in housing policy. A model for conducting a community assessment of local housing needs is included as are critical thinking questions for programs on their organizational capacity for housing advocacy.

In Brief: Housing and Battered Women

  • Like all people, domestic violence victims need permanent, safe and affordable housing.
  • Battered women's housing barriers are shaped by several key factors, including the consequences of their partner's abusive behaviors, the unintended consequences of federal housing policy on victims of domestic violence, and - for battered women with few financial resources - the barriers faced by all low-income households as they search for affordable housing.
  • Coupled with the obstacles that arise from domestic abuse, the search for housing can seem insurmountable. However, it is one important strategy to consider for creating opportunities for safety in women's lives.
  • Increasingly, research into the causes of homelessness reveals domestic violence as a key contributing factor.
  • The increasing body of research on the lives of poor women documents that poor women experience high rates of physical violence and that a batterer's behavior can play a significant role in sabotaging a woman's opportunities for economic stability.
  • Trends in housing policy have created significant barriers for battered women and others in obtaining permanent housing.
  • There has been a significant shift in federal funding away from building low-cost housing, which has resulted in a loss of units affordable for low-income households.
  • There have been some developments in housing policy that have the potential of creating housing opportunities for battered women.
  • Federal housing programs provide three types of direct-rental housing assistance to lowincome households: tenant-based, commonly known as vouchers or certificates; projectbased, tied to specific properties; and public housing, owned and operated by local PHAs. The lack of affordable housing options is a community-wide problem, not just the problem of battered women. All people require housing, but there is not enough low-income housing for those who need it. To increase housing options for battered women, it is important that domestic violence advocates ally themselves with groups already working on housing issues.
  • Housing and homelessness coalitions, tenant groups, anti-poverty organizations, and legal aid already have a great deal of housing experience. It is the role of domestic violence advocates to educate allies on the specific needs and safety concerns of battered women.

Distribution Rights

This Applied Research paper and In Brief may be reprinted in its entirety or excerpted with proper acknowledgement to the author(s) and VAWnet, a project of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, but may not be altered or sold for profit.