Domestic Violence Housing First Q & A
What is Housing First?
Housing First is a philosophy that is focused on rapidly getting people who are homeless into permanent housing. The theory is that any issues that may have contributed to an individual or family becoming homeless, can best be addressed after they are in a stable housing situation. Emphasis is on the shortest timeline possible to permanent housing.
What services does Housing First include?
Housing First programs generally include rental assistance to get people into permanent housing quickly. Participants are then offered a range of tailored services, such as job training, to help them be self-sufficient and stay in that housing.
What is Domestic Violence Housing First (DVHF)?
DVHF is a program that WSCADV, in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is piloting across Washington State. With a focus on placing and keeping domestic violence survivors and their children in permanent housing, advocates provide the wrap-around services needed for families to safely stay in those homes.
How is DVHF different than Housing First?
DVHF prioritizes the unique safety needs of domestic violence survivors and their children. While the Housing First approach is designed to bypass shelters and transitional housing programs, DVHF seeks to add to the support services and housing options available to survivors. Safety and self-determination are the driving factors, rather than the shortest possible timeline to permanent housing.
Does DVHF replace domestic violence shelters?
No. Domestic violence shelters provide critical, life-saving, emergency services. They are important for survivors and their children who need an immediate safe haven from an abuser. DVHF is intended as an additional option to provide a wider range of choices to meet the unique and varied needs of survivors. In addition, DVHF strategies may be used to help survivors in emergency shelters access permanent housing.
Where does domestic violence transitional housing fit in?
In the homelessness arena, Housing First is seeking to replace most transitional housing programs. We do not know how this strategy would work for families impacted by domestic violence. There are currently no parallel data sets to compare DVHF outcomes to domestic violence transitional housing program outcomes. Different individuals are accessing the different programs based on their unique situation, safety concerns, and housing needs.
Does DVHF work?
We are in the early stages of piloting this program, so it is too soon to definitively say “it works,” but the initial data is promising. At the end of the first year, 93% of DVHF participants were in permanent housing.
How does a survivor access DVHF?
Survivors access DVHF through one of the local agencies currently receiving DVHF funding. Each program has a slightly different process for assessing a survivor’s unique needs and matching those up with the service options they have available.
Can DVHF help people whose income is too low to ever maintain permanent housing?
Very low-income people usually need rent vouchers or other housing subsidies to maintain permanent housing. Some agencies implementing DVHF are able to provide this and some are not. There continues to be a need for more low-income, affordable housing options in our communities.
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