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Local News

Housing First Model Helps Domestic-Violence Survivors

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Intimate-partner violence includes violence, abuse and controlling behavior committed by a partner or former partner. It can result in long-lasting adverse mental-health outcomes, and is a leading cause of homelessness and housing instability. (Adobe Stock)
Intimate-partner violence includes violence, abuse and controlling behavior committed by a partner or former partner. It can result in long-lasting adverse mental-health outcomes, and is a leading cause of homelessness and housing instability. (Adobe Stock)

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 Eric Galatas, Producer

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Tuesday, September 5, 2023   

Victims of domestic violence who are able to access housing — at their own pace, and with support for as long as the survivor needs help — experience greater safety and housing stability and reduced mental-health symptoms compared with victims who only receive standard services such as support groups, counseling, legal advocacy and referrals.

Cathy Alderman, chief communications and public policy officer for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, said a new JAMA Network report echoed other studies showing the housing-first model works.

“The reason for that is that it provides low-barrier access to housing, and supportive services,” Alderman explained. “I think what this study shows is that it remains one of the most highly effective ways to get people into housing, and to keep them stably housed.”

Intimate-partner violence is a leading cause of homelessness in Colorado and across the nation. The Domestic Violence Housing First model adopts advances made in Denver and other cities to address chronic homelessness and help those struggling with mental health and addiction disorders. The model’s two main pillars are to get people into housing and ensure funding is flexible enough to keep them housed.

Alderman argued the housing-first model, and ensuring limited public resources are invested in households with the greatest need — including communities of color who have faced historic and structural barriers to housing — are the solution to homelessness. She added survivors of domestic violence definitely qualify as a household in greatest need.

“Because they are fleeing their homes, often with children, and they need to be rehoused quickly,” Alderman pointed out. “Those resources need to be available for them in order for them to be safe, and for them to thrive after the instance of domestic violence.”

She explained flexible funding can be tapped to help a household pay a security deposit or first month’s rent, but you can also help them pay for an emergency expense such as a car repair, which could prevent them from being able to get to work so they can pay their rent.

“That was really critical during COVID with emergency rental-assistance funds,” Alderman emphasized. “It’s proven time and time again to really help people address their emergency needs, that would otherwise result in them losing their housing.” 

Disclosure: The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Health Issues, Housing/Homelessness, and Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.