Understanding the Intersections

Interpersonal violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children, and the need for safe and affordable housing is one of the most pressing concerns for survivors of violence and abuse. Many survivors face unique barriers to accessing shelter and affordable housing due to the power and control dynamics involved in these types of abuse and the economic and trauma impacts that result. These barriers are often exacerbated for those most marginalized in our society and with the least access to resources, including many survivors of color, Native Americans, immigrants, those living in poverty and geographically isolated, survivors with disabilities, and others. In addition, systemic factors such as institutional discrimination and the lack of affordable housing in communities create further challenges for many survivors. At the same time, housing programs can provide critical services for survivors and are often a key component in helping survivors find safety and stability.

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Survivors must have meaningful access to housing programs - and this includes language access for people who speak languages other than English (including sign language), physical access to buildings and spaces that are designed for a variety of individuals and families, and access to culturally-responsive and trauma-informed services and supports. As advocates, service providers, and communities work to design and develop housing programs, we must do so with principles of equity at the center of our work. Only then will those programs be truly responsive to the unique and diverse needs of all survivors, and particularly those from historically marginalized communities. 

TOOLKIT: Making Domestic Violence Services Accessible to Individuals with Limited English Proficiency

National Latin@ Network
Casa de Esperanza

Creative and dedicated sexual and domestic violence programs and advocates have always found ways to improve our work toward safety, healing, and justice for those harmed by violence, and to end and prevent violence at home and in our communities. If we invest in a comprehensive, proactive approach to providing assistance for individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP), all survivors will have greater access to critical services and greater success in addressing the violence in their lives. This toolkit provides resources and support to build language access as a core service for survivors with LEP.

Federal Housing Rights of Survivors with Limited English Proficiency: An Information Packet

Karlo Ng
Renee Williams
National Housing Law Project

The National Housing Law Project created this information packet for programs serving limited English proficient (LEP) survivors of domestic or sexual violence, dating violence, or stalking who are seeking to access or maintain federally-assisted housing. This packet gives an overview of the federal housing rights of LEP individuals and discusses how these protections apply to survivors.

Developing Culturally-Relevant Responses to Domestic Abuse: Asha Family Services, Inc.

Antonia Vann

This report features the work of Asha Family Services, Inc., (Asha), a domestic abuse program in Wisconsin specifically designed to serve the needs of African Americans. Asha is governed by people of color committed to providing effective, comprehensive intervention services and prevention efforts to persons and families affected by violence in their homes. Guided by the notion that the most effective methods for increasing the safety and self-determination of women of color are grounded in the social, political and economic realities of their community, Asha has been in the national forefront of supporting and promoting culturally-responsive strategies.

SPARC: Supporting Partnerships for Anti-Racist Communities - Phase One Study Findings

Center for Social Innovation

People of color are dramatically more likely than White people to experience homelessness in the United States. In September 2016, the Center for Social Innovation launched SPARC (Supporting Partnerships for Anti-Racist Communities) to understand and respond to racial inequities in homelessness. This report presents phase one finding from an ambitious mixed-methods (quantitative and qualitative) study documenting high rates of homeless among people of color and beginning to map their pathways into and barriers to exit from homelessness.

Racial and Ethnic Differences in Housing Search: Final Report

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

This research adds new insights about the housing search process that renters undertake, and how this process differs by race and ethnicity. By combining robust survey data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), the American Housing Survey (AHS), and the Chicago Area Study (CAS), and original data collection from a convenience sample of 135 recent movers and 351 current searchers from the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, the study provides the most comprehensive picture to date about the rental housing search process.

Continuum of Care Racial Equity Analysis Tool

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Each community has unique circumstances impacting homeless populations. The CoC Analysis Tool draws on Point-In-Time (PIT) Count and American Community Survey data to facilitate analysis of racial disparities among people experiencing homelessness. Such an analysis is a critical first step in identifying and changing racial and ethnic bias in our systems and services.

See also: Continuum of Care Racial Equity Analysis Tool Overview

LGBT Homelessness

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

This section of the HUD Exchange establishes a central clearinghouse of resources for the LGBT community, including information on and links to HUD's Equal Access Rule and program guidance, a toolkit on supporting transgender-inclusive projects, information on HUD's initiative for the community-wide prevention of LGBT youth homelessness, and links to LGBTQ resources and research reports.

Equal Access Self-Assessment for Shelters and Projects

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

This self-assessment is a spreadsheet that projects can use to figure out their top priorities for improving policies and procedures as regards implementation of the Equal Access Rule on transgender status and gender expression. Projects can assess their own inclusivity through answering a series of questions. The tool generates the top three action steps based on those responses. Users can re-assess their performance periodically to continue operational improvement.

Equal Access for Transgender People: Supporting Inclusive Housing and Shelters

David Canavan
Fran Ledger
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Individuals and families seeking services from HUD funded homeless projects have nowhere else to go. Too many LGBT youth and adults meet this standard and have nowhere to turn other than a HUD funded project. Acknowledging their need for assistance and seeking help is often its own struggle for those who have sacrificed much simply to recognize themselves. Transgender individuals in particular are impacted by violence and discrimination in ways that both contribute to their homelessness and keep them from accessing necessary shelter and services. HUD funds welcoming and inclusive housing programs open to all eligible individuals; the Equal Access Rule and follow-up guidance ensure that local projects know how to implement and enforce this requirement. These training materials provide CoCs and projects with the framework to create welcoming and inclusive projects for transgender and gender non-conforming people.

Open Minds Open Doors: Transforming Domestic Violence Programs to Include LGBTQ Survivors

The Network/La Red

Despite the prevalence of LGBTQ partner abuse, there are only a handful of programs in the country specifically serving LGBTQ survivors. The need for more inclusive services for LGBTQ survivors is great in all areas, but shelter and housing are especially wanting. Many LGBTQ victims become homeless due to the abuse, and there are significant gaps in the critical continuum of services, including adequate shelter and transitional living programs for LGBTQ survivors. This guide is intended to assist programs to increase their capacity to serve LGBTQ survivors.

Self Assessment Tool for Ensuring Access for People with Disabilities

Disability Rights Wisconsin

This tool is to be used by sexual assault and domestic violence programs to review their programs and services to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access and an equal opportunity to participate. Accessibility includes removing not only physical barriers to participation, but also cultural and attitudinal barriers. Many of the suggestions about policies and communication are best practices, and some are required by law. This tool is designed to be used with an accompanying Accessibility Guide. Links to both the Guide and the Tool can be found below.

Measuring Capacity to Serve Survivors with Disabilities

Vera Institute of Justice Center on Victimization and Safety

Using performance indicators, this resource relies on Vera’s Center on Victimization and Safety’s years of experience at the intersection of violence and disability to help practitioners—from disability organizations, domestic violence programs, rape crisis centers, and dual agencies—measure their organizations’ capacity to serve survivors with disabilities against field standards. The indicators help practitioners track progress towards specific goals and refine their capacity-building efforts to better meet those goals over time. They also draw upon data and resources that organizations typically have access to and provide step-by-step information on implementation, including how to collect, analyze, and interpret their data.

Housing Rights of Survivors with Disabilities

National Housing Law Project

Survivors who have disabilities may face barriers to admission or continued occupancy due to their disability. To allow a survivor with a disability the equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, the survivor may seek a reasonable accommodation, which is a change in a rule, policy or practice. These webinar slides and accompanying fact sheets address common housing issues that survivors with disabilities face, housing rights and protections available for disabled survivors and how laws regarding reasonable accommodation may be used to advocate for disabled survivors housing needs.