Domestic Violence Contributes To Homelessness Among Women


Recent data from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) shows that approximately ten million women and men experience physical violence by an intimate partner each year in the United States. Domestic abusers typically use violence as part of a larger strategy to exercise power and control over their partners and will often isolate them from their support networks. This means that when an individual experiences domestic violence, they will often have little or no access to money and very few friends or family members to rely on if they decide to leave the situation. 

For this reason, many individuals and families are forced to choose homelessness in order to escape their abuser. According to PIT data from 2017, on any given night in the United States, there are approximately 55,000 beds set aside for survivors of domestic violence. For many of these individuals, domestic violence is the primary cause of their homelessness. Other recent data shows that one in five families experiencing homelessness had experienced some form of domestic violence within five years before entering a shelter. Among these families, a staggering 88% reported that the domestic violence contributed to their homelessness ‘a lot.’ 

According to the ACLU, women who had experienced recent or ongoing domestic violence are far more likely to face eviction than other women. This is the result of “zero tolerance for crime” policies adopted by landlords that penalize victims of domestic violence. These policies allow landlords to evict tenants when violence occurs in their homes, regardless of whether the tenant is the victim or perpetrator of the violence. Some landlords are even unwilling to rent to a woman who has experienced domestic violence. For example, the ACLU sites a 2005 study that found that 28% of housing providers either flatly refused to rent to a domestic violence victim or failed to follow up as promised when contacted by an investigator posing as a housing coordinator for a domestic violence survivor assistance program. 

At JOIN, we work hard to give individuals experiencing homelessness in Portland a chance to thrive in a permanent housing environment. Many of the individuals and families we work with have experienced some form of domestic violence in the past. These individuals are often traumatized and emotionally scarred from the damage inflicted by their abuser. At JOIN, we understand that finding and maintaining permanent housing can be challenging after such an awful experience. Through our outreach program, JOIN has been able to work with these individuals to identify and overcome their barriers to housing by partnering with local agencies and advocating with local landlords to open the doors to permanent housing. 

Once our outreach team has successfully placed an individual or family into a permanent home, our housing retention team will provide them with the individualized support they will need to succeed in their housing long-term. This includes job finding assistance, benefits advocacy, transportation assistance, medical and mental health referrals, food box delivery, and a variety of other services that support efforts to truly end their homelessness. 

The transition from homelessness can often be difficult, leaving new tenants with overwhelming feelings of isolation. Helping these individuals, especially domestic abuse survivors, re-establish healthy and meaningful communities is a vital aspect of our retention efforts. With the support of volunteers, community groups, and local businesses, our retention team provides several opportunities to engage with the community each month. 

If you’d like to help our team continue working to provide permanent sustainable housing to victims of domestic violence and other homeless individuals and families, please donate today