Domestic Violence is a Leading Cause of Homelessness

In 2013, 16% of all homeless adults were victims of domestic violence. The proportion is even higher for women, with as many as one in every four homeless women reporting domestic violence as the cause of their homelessness. Additionally, over half of homeless women have experienced domestic or sexual violence at some point in their lives.

Safe, stable, and legally protected housing is critical to preventing homelessness for survivors.

The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty has more:

A recent census by the National Network to End Domestic Violence found that victims of domestic violence experienced “devastating unmet needs” when requesting emergency shelter or transitional housing. In fact, shelter and housing requests accounted for 60% of all unmet needs in the census; in a single 24-hour period, 5,778 requests from domestic violence victims for shelter or housing went unmet due to limited resources. This lack of safe housing often leaves victims with an impossible choice – to return to their abusers and face additional violence, or to become homeless.

Such a choice is frightening even for a single adult, and heartbreaking for a parent trying to escape violence with her children. Access to emergency shelter and safe, affordable housing are vital for victims to escape violence and avoid homelessness.

One year ago this month, President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA) into law. This law included a major extension of housing protections for victims of domestic and sexual violence living in public and federally subsidized housing, including preventing eviction of victims based on the actions of their abusers, and requiring Public Housing Authorities to adopt emergency transfer policies.

In Vermont, the 14 member programs of the Vermont Network Against Domestic & Sexual Violence in 2012 served 8,778 victims of domestic violence, fielded 12,507 hotline calls, and housed 1,065 adult victims in shelters and safehomes.  Learn more here.