With a 58% increase in the number of domestic violence survivors without shelter over the past two years and a corresponding 90-100% increase in the number of additional shelter beds needed in each Continuum of Care (CoC), the federal government ought to establish a specific goal to prevent and end homelessness for domestic violence survivors and Congress ought to provide additional funding for shelter for domestic violence survivors so that no adult or child fleeing domestic violence has to choose between sleeping on the streets or going back to an abuser. Over the past two years, the number of domestic violence survivors without shelter increased from 16,553 to 26,205 and the number of additional shelter beds needed increased from 9,202 to 11,626 on a given night in 2014 to 18,380 to 20,453 on a given night in 2015.
Adults and children are fleeing domestic violence in almost every state and CoC area. Continuum of Cares reported that 40,717 domestic violence survivors were in shelters in 49 states and the District of Columbia and in 375 CoCs with Montana the only state not reporting any domestic violence survivors on a given night in 2015. On a given night in 2015, 26,205 domestic violence survivors were without shelter in 47 states and the District of Columbia and in 284 of the nation’s 403 CoCs.
Additional domestic violence shelter or housing is needed in approximately one-third of the states and CoCs. Specifically, according to the data in 2015, emergency shelters, transitional housing, or rapid rehousing beds are needed for 18,380 to 20,453 of these 26,205 unsheltered adults and children fleeing domestic violence in 32 to 37 states and in 120 to 145 CoCs. Data for 2014 also supports this need for additional domestic violence shelter resources. While the total number of sheltered domestic violence survivors has remained steady over the past two years, the number of total domestic violence survivors and domestic violence survivors without shelter has increased by approximately 10,000 adults and children.
The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness in consultation with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the U.S. Department of Justice should articulate an identified goal to prevent and end homelessness among domestic violence survivors to account for the heightened danger that homeless and unsheltered domestic violence survivors face, the
difficulty that domestic violence survivors experience in obtaining shelter in shelters not designated as domestic violence shelters or designated for certain populations, and the specialized circumstances and assistance that domestic violence survivors may encounter and need.
With the continued lack of a sufficient number of shelters for adults and children fleeing domestic violence and the heightened danger, barriers to accessing shelter, and compounded nature of domestic violence, Congress should increase funding in the HUD, HHS, and Justice fiscal year (FY) 2017 appropriations bills for emergency shelter, transitional housing, rapid rehousing, and permanent housing beds for domestic violence survivors. The U.S. Senate should increase funding above the $2.330 billion for homeless assistance grants in the HUD appropriations bill approved by the Senate appropriations committee last week for 20,000 additional emergency housing, transitional housing, rapid rehousing, and permanent housing beds, increase the funding from the FY2016 enacted level of $150 million to the authorized level of $175 million for the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act/Battered Women’s Shelter grants as it drafts the HHS appropriations bill, and/or increase funding above the level-funded $215 million for STOP Violence Against Women grants and the level-funded $30 million for Transitional Housing Assistance grants for domestic violence survivors in the Justice appropriations bill also approved by the Senate appropriations committee last week and the U.S. House should include this needed boost in domestic violence shelter funding as it drafts its appropriations bills.