The need for safe, immediate, and affordable housing is a significant challenge for survivors of domestic violence and the service providers who work with them. This challenge can be seen across the nation, but surveys have shown it is especially acute in the state of Wisconsin.
On September 13th, 2017, 90% of all domestic violence programs in the United States participated in the National Census of Domestic Violence Services, a point-in-time data collection event that provides information concerning services requested, provided, and denied in a 24-hour period. During that survey period, the National Network to End Domestic Violence found that a majority of unmet service requests by survivors to service providers were for housing. In fact, 65% of requests that were not able to be provided “because programs lacked the resources to meet victims’ needs” were requests for housing. In Wisconsin, the picture painted by this survey was even more dire with fully 87% unmet requests for service being for housing. In light of these numbers, End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence (End Abuse) decided it was imperative to more fully understand how this challenging housing situation manifests in the lived experience of survivors of domestic violence.
End Abuse, with 76 member programs including agencies both with and without shelter capacity as well as culturally-specific and tribal partners, is the statewide voice for victims of domestic violence dedicated to educating advocates, law enforcement, legislators, and community members to provide safety and support to survivors. The first step in this education is a full understanding of the challenges facing survivors, and in Wisconsin, the primary challenge appears to be housing.
Conducted under the principle of evidence-based advocacy, our Housing Research Project was designed with the following goals in mind:
- Understand the experiences survivors have when accessing housing services and identify where there are gaps.
- Identify possible system and policy improvements to enhance outcomes for survivors in an attempt to ensure survivors have access to stable, safe, and reasonable housing options more quickly.
- Review and evaluate existing housing resources through a random sample by region.
Read the full report here – which includes research methods, program staff perspectives, survivor interviews, data analysis, and policy implications – for insight into steps we must take to meet the identified needs of survivors across Wisconsin.
Want to learn more about housing as it relates to domestic violence? Here a few other resources from the coalition that offer insight into this important topic:
the Ending Abuse podcast
Episode 1: Coming Home
Issue 37-2: Coming Home
Fundamental to all humans is the concept of home. Home is a place that we call our own, the place where we can be our true and authentic selves. It is supposed to be the safe haven at the end of every day.
For victims of domestic violence and their children, “home” can be something more sinister. When violence is imminent or present in a home, it is anything but a safe haven. When victims feel so unsafe that they decide they must leave their homes, many of them find themselves homeless, which creates an entirely different level of fear and anxiety for them and their children. This issue of the Coalition Chronicles – End Abuse’s educational journal – examines the issue of housing for victims, the lack of safe and affordable housing, and the strategies that domestic violence programs are developing to ensure that all families get the kind of home they deserve and need to thrive. Every home should be a safe home.