by Julieta Barcaglioni-Heller, Safe Harbor Housing Assistance Program Manager
Families can become homeless for many interrelated reasons – unemployment, housing foreclosures, lower incomes, medical crises, and addiction issues. For groups like single women and women and their children, however, domestic violence is the most common contributing factor to becoming homeless and is currently considered the leading cause for homelessness.
Faced with a domestic violence situation, women and their children are often forced to move out of their homes to seek safety. At the same time, however, lack of affordable housing severely limits the victims’ options for safe housing and poses a major barrier to leaving. Due to the dynamics of domestic violence, victims are forced to choose between abuse at home and potential homelessness.
In addition to the aforementioned barriers brought on by the inadequate supply of affordable housing, victims of domestic violence face other difficulties. Victims often have poor credit records and employment histories because of the violence they have experienced. Landlords often discriminate against victims and subsidized housing availabilities are subject to long waiting lists. Women survivors may also potentially have to deal with other barriers including criminal history resulting from self-defense and stereotypes about survivors.