As Domestic Violence Awareness Month comes to a close, we wanted to share a thought from Genese Jones-Torrence, Vice President of Crisis Services at SafeNest, a domestic violence shelter network in Nevada: "Housing is safety."
No one chooses to remain in an abusive relationship, but, as we've described, the "coercive control" inherent to domestic violence can rob targets of means to flee. Those who do may have no option but a domestic violence shelter, but, sadly, these shelters face overwhelming demand, leaving many unable to secure a place when they need it (a total of 186,522 households in 2013).
Many come to organizations like us. Last year, almost 24 percent (122) of our women clients and 20 percent (55) of our child clients were fleeing domestic violence. All six of our La Grange Area Transitional Housing (LATH) program families have survived domestic violence as well. We provide focused case management services to help them recover, but families in other homeless shelter programs may not have access to the same resources.
As Ms. Jones-Torrence observed about SafeNest, "Almost every person we serve shares one critical goal: to have a place of their own." Shelter programs—domestic violence or otherwise—give domestic violence survivors temporary safety and rest, but only housing ensures protection from the health effects of homelessness and the risk of violent crime on the streets.
The domestic violence survivors we serve have survived incredible hardships, and, now, we believe they should have new homes where they can begin new lives. We have been exploring innovative ways to support them. You can read more in-depth about the strategies here, but they seek to pair housing assistance with "flexible financial assistance," "trauma-informed, survivor-driven advocacy," and "community engagement (emphasis added)."