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Domestic Violence and Homelessness

By: Sara Behmerwohld, Esq., COO

It’s impossible to discuss domestic violence without acknowledging its close connection to housing instability. A recent study conducted by the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence found that 57% of women who are homeless attributed domestic violence as the primary reason for their homelessness. This percentage escalates to a staggering 80% if the woman has a child in her care. 

Choosing between enduring an abusive relationship or becoming homeless due to the shortage of affordable housing is an impossible decision for victims to have to make. Unfortunately, this is a dilemma that many may face. In this blog, we will examine the contributing factors to housing instability for survivors and the significance of Human Options being able to provide survivors with options and resources when deciding to exit an abusive relationship.

There are many reasons why survivors may be at increased risk of homelessness. Two primary catalysts include the immediate need to escape violence, as well as the need to shield their children from ongoing abuse. However, they face many additional barriers, including but not limited to:

Poor Credit and Limited Access to Resources: Often caused by abusers running up the victim’s credit card bills and other forms of financial abuse or fraud, many survivors struggle with passing a landlord’s background check. With affordable housing also being limited in Orange County due to a nationwide housing crisis, victims often struggle with finding a safe place to go that they can bear the cost of paying – especially if they also have a child.

Job Loss Due to Abuse: Victims may also be forced to miss work or lose their jobs as a result of violence and controlling partners. Not being employed is a significant barrier to finding safe, reliable housing.

Lack of Support: Often, abusers cut off ties to a victim’s support system by cutting them off from friends and family who might otherwise be able to offer support; they might not have a safety net in place that they can turn to for receiving help or a safe place to stay.

Our Commitment to Making a Difference

Human Options is honored to be part of the Housing Opportunities Mean Everything (HOME) Cohort, a multi-year project with a total budget exceeding $2.1 million over three years, involving 11 partners. This initiative aims to enhance the safety and economic security of women in California experiencing homelessness due to domestic violence. 

Additionally, we are the recipients of a DV Bonus grant through HUD and the Orange County Continuum of Care, designed to assist survivors and their families grappling with homelessness, facilitating their transition into transitional and permanent housing to secure long-term stability. As a result, we may offer rental assistance and flexible funding to survivors in need, and we are proud to report that 94% of those receiving this care can independently maintain their housing after six months.

Extending Our Support

We are steadfast in our commitment to assisting victims seeking refuge from abusive relationships, and we want to ensure that their transition is not only safe but also a smooth process. To this end, we provide a 24-hour hotline, emergency shelter, transitional housing, and a Rapid Re-Housing Program. 

Our shelter offers a secure, confidential space where individuals and families can access essential resources, find respite, and take advantage of voluntary support services like case management, legal advocacy, counseling, support groups, and children’s programs. 

If you need assistance, please contact our 24/7 hotline at (877) 854-3594 to learn more about how you can gain access to our shelter.

Our Rapid Re-Housing Program caters to unaccompanied women and single-headed households who have received victim services, have a recent history of domestic violence, and are at risk of homelessness due to domestic violence. Our clients shouldn’t fear that they won’t have a roof for themselves or their families when they leave an abusive situation. 

Assistance includes short-term housing, application fees, move-in costs, and supportive services like case management, legal advocacy, and counseling. For more information about our housing program, please contact our hotline at (877) 854-3594.

At Human Options, we ensure that no one needs to decide between staying in an abusive household or living on the streets. If you or someone you know needs help, please call our 24-hour hotline to speak with an empathetic and caring advocate to help them navigate resources and validate their experience. 

For more information, call 877-854-3594 or visit humanoptions.org.  

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