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Rapid Re-Housing with DV Survivors: Approaches that Work

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Rapid Re-Housing with DV Survivors: Approaches that Work by Kris Billhardt from the workshop Providing Rapid Re-housing for Victims of Domestic Violence at the 2014 National Conference on Ending Homelessness.

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Rapid Re-Housing with DV Survivors: Approaches that Work

  1. 1. NAEH Ending Homelessness Conference July 2014 Kris Billhardt,VOA Oregon – Home Free kbillhardt@voaor.org
  2. 2. DV/sexual assault history (and trauma impacts) a significant contributing factor to chronic homelessness in women 92% of homeless women have experienced severe physical or sexual abuse in their lives; 63% were victims of domestic violence Homeless women may seek the perceived safety of a new partner and become the victim of survival sex and other coercive control Among homeless families, over 40% are homeless due to DV 2
  3. 3. DV shelters lack capacity; often prioritize the highest degree of current DV danger (regardless of street danger) Over half of the survivors who identify a need for housing services upon fleeing abusive homes don’t receive them Survivors often faced with choice of return to abuse or coping with chronic homelessness with little hope of housing 3
  4. 4. Housing considerations are a huge part of deciding what to do when DV becomes part of living situation For many survivors, fleeing DV means losing their housing and becoming impoverished Fears and uncertainty about how they will make it on their own, where they can live result in many survivors staying – especially when there are children In cases where abuser exits the shared housing, survivors may lack resources to sustain costs 4
  5. 5. “The availability of safe, affordable, and stable housing can make a critical difference in a woman’s ability to escape an abusive partner and remain safe and independent. Without viable housing options, many battered women, particularly those already living in poverty, are forced to remain in abusive relationships, accept inadequate or unsafe housing conditions, or become homeless and perhaps increase their risk of sexual and physical violence.” -Anne Menard 5
  6. 6. Housing instability is associated with poorer outcomes above and beyond survivors’ level of danger due to DV Increased housing stability a significant predictor of improvements in many areas of life: • Increased safety, decreased vulnerability to abuse • Lower levels of PTSD and depression • Higher quality of life • Increased ability to sustain employment • Improvements in children’s outcomes 6
  7. 7. Some survivors need confidentially-located shelter Some face considerable housing barriers & may need long-term subsidy or master-leasing Others can safely return to/remain in previous housing once abuser vacates Many want to avoid systems involvement and quickly establish themselves in new housing Rapid Re-Housing is an important part of responding to a continuum of housing needs 6
  8. 8. Trauma impacts (survivor and children) Ongoing legal issues Fears about child custody, deportation Isolation from social supports Stalking-prone abuser Interrupted/sabotaged employment history Criminal record Chemical dependency Bad credit, inexperience with handling money Pets often part of the household needing safety 8
  9. 9. Safety considerations should be embedded in all aspects of services provision, including housing location Remember: Barriers/issues a result of trauma, compromised ability to control own life – not defect or disorder Know the federal and state laws that provide protections and recourse to survivors Use what we know about DV and trauma to tailor services and policies Seek partnerships to bring in additional supports 9
  10. 10. Unintentionally re-victimizing or increasing danger through policies intended to increase safety (ex. requiring a protective order) Forgetting to partner with survivors as experts; deciding for them what is best Expecting survivor to “control” abuser’s behavior (ex. showing up at unit, drawing police presence, etc.) Failing to conduct honest assessment of rules and policies (necessary? respectful? effective?) 10
  11. 11. Can’t deny otherwise eligible individual on basis of being victim of DV, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking “Actual or threatened” DV, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking can’t be used as “good cause” for eviction or termination Victim may terminate lease based on safety concerns without losing the voucher or housing subsidy Leases may be bifurcated to retain victim but evict perpetrator Housing agencies must develop model emergency transfer plans for victims 11
  12. 12. Federally funded programs (VAWA, HUD) have statutory requirements protecting survivor confidentiality Advised practice: Afford survivors basic privacy safeguards regardless of statutory requirements (ex. Release of Information) Examine all programmatic aspects for breaches of confidentiality – use of technology, sharing paperwork, using personally identifying info., etc. When in doubt, ask survivor. Which info is OK to share? Is it OK to leave a message? Should we have a code word? 12
  13. 13. Safety planning is a process, not a one-time event or check list. Safety planning is tailored to the survivor’s life and daily activities—each day may even be a little different. Ask the survivor what the abuser’s power and control tactics are. Listen to the survivors and ask what s/he needs. Survivor activities and abuser’s tactics will guide the safety planning process. 13
  14. 14. Trauma:When external threat overwhelms a person’s coping resources Recent federal report: 80-90% of women seeking services report histories of violence SHARE Study: Over 94% experienced PTSD; average score equal or higher to that of returning veterans of combat Important not to mistake trauma impacts for apathy, opposition, unreliability, or deeper mental health issues Shaming or negative experiences with systems reduce help-seeking behavior and reinforce abuser’s message:“No one cares about you, no one can help you.” 14
  15. 15. SAFETY (Physical and emotional) – Safety planning as an ongoing process TRUSTWORTHINESS – Transparency, clarity, consistency, and healthy boundaries CHOICE – Support survivor’s autonomy, rights to make own choices and have control of her/his plan COLLABORATION – Avoid hierarchy; work as partners and share power EMPOWERMENT – Build on strengths, help with connection to community/natural supports rather than creating dependency on your program 15
  16. 16. “I can’t begin to describe how wonderful it feels to spend the bulk of my time being helpful to people in a way that they determine they need help! I no longer spend a significant portion of my day having conversations with people that were awkward for me and must have felt humiliating and defeating to them.” - Home Free Advocate 16
  17. 17. “Our program doesn’t expect people to live in a way that we wouldn’t live our own lives. It seems to be a fairly radical concept in a lot of circles.” - Home Free Advocate 17
  18. 18. Scattered-site model staffed by mobile advocates Earmarked funds for rental subsidy and flexible financial assistance Capacity: 55-75 households/yr Usual duration of services: 6-9 months financial assistance (step-down), up to two years advocacy “Light touch” support also provided 18
  19. 19. Broad eligibility* Tailored, survivor-driven services Mobile advocacy and home visits increase accessibility of services Strong emphasis on working across systems to address DV-related and other barriers Long-term support to better ensure true stabilization Trauma-informed Rental agreements held by survivor *Increasingly challenging depending on funding source 19
  20. 20. Danger Assessment, ongoing safety planning Systems navigation and accompaniment Housing search, advocacy with landlords Employment access support Rental subsidy and other financial assistance Links to civil legal and immigration law services Direct services for children, parenting support Financial empowerment and job search support Emotional support around trauma, DV issues 20
  21. 21. > 90% stably housed 12 months post-exit > 70% reach Milestone 5 (sig. gain in self- advocacy skills) > 95% increase coping skills/self-sufficiency Self-Assessment: > 95% increase ability to stay safe > 95% increase ability to make informed choices > 95% increase knowledge of resources/how to access them 21
  22. 22. We’ve built systems to help survivors GET to safety; our next emphasis must be on helping them SUSTAIN it With flexible dollars, our responses can support survivors in the variety of circumstances they may face as they seek stability Eviction prevention funds less available with increasing emphasis on rapid re-housing; most SHARE study participants would not qualify for many housing programs Supplementing housing dollars with unrestricted funds enhances ability to address survivors’ myriad economic challenges 22