Domestic Violence Among Leading Causes of Homelessness

Most Abuse Continues to Be Unreported

As rent skyrockets and waiting lists for public housing grow, many women trying to flee domestic violence are left with no place to go. This means some will go back to their abusers or live on the streets for years, according to a Huffington Post report

One in four women will suffer domestic violence in their lifetimes, although most of these crimes go unreported. Domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families, and because the victims are mostly women, they don’t always have access to money or a recent job history, and many have no family or friends they can turn to, says the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

To add to this problem, rent prices rose at a rate of 3 percent in 2014, which is double the pace of overall inflation. While affordable housing units are sometimes available, and voucher programs can help with housing costs, these types of programs typically have long waiting lists. This has led both King County in Washington state and New York City to work on solutions. King County, which includes Seattle, is using grant money and working through advocacy groups to help secure stable housing and help with living expenses for hundreds of families. 

Many abuse victims looking for homes in New York City face a waiting list for public housing that is 270,000 families long, with 170,000 more families waiting for vouchers that ease cost of living expenses. Some domestic violence survivors' applications were first filed a decade ago. The city has also seen a net loss of nearly 104,000 private rent-stabilized apartments over the past 21 years. And the median rent for a studio apartment in New York City is now about $2,500 a month, with a vacancy rate of 2 percent, according to real estate industry figures. To counter this situation, New York City is working on a rent subsidy program that, in part, will help domestic violence victims.

Photo: waiting for the train via photopin (license)