Fifty-seven percent of women experiencing homelessness cite domestic violence as the immediate cause of their homelessness. This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we sat down with the Domestic Violence and Housing Technical Assistance Consortium (DVHTAC) to talk about the work of the Consortium and what we can expect next year.
Can you tell us a little about the role of DVHTAC?
Launched in 2015, the Consortium builds and strengthens capacity for providers and programs working at the critical intersection of domestic violence, sexual assault, homelessness and housing. While the effort to bridge the intersections between domestic and sexual violence and homelessness and housing seems complex, involving many systems, programs, and stakeholders, it is simple at its core - making survivor choice central to whatever options, strategies, and programs are being proposed. This includes allowing survivors to define what safety means to them and how they want to move forward with their lives, regardless of what institutions and systems may deem safe and stable.
Communities across the country are doing this work on one level or another, in whatever capacity they have. The Consortium helps lift up those solutions that seem to work, from the most sophisticated systems strategies to the most basic program innovations. We strive to share that knowledge with others, support the resources to spread and scale them up, and demonstrate their efficacy, so that other communities can realize their goals as well.
What projects will you be working on this year?
We are actually very excited about three things for this coming year.
- Centering and prioritizing racial equity into our work: We are committed to addressing disparities in housing and homelessness to ensure that people of color and culturally specific communities aren't disproportionately impacted by the effect of abuse on housing instability. To support this work, the Consortium TA Providers will host the National Safe Housing Conference in October 2020 . The conference will focus on the intersections of domestic and sexual violence, housing and homelessness, and racial inequities. The conference, the first platform of its kind to examine, inform, and advocate at these intersections, will emphasize safe housing solutions for survivors from communities of color and marginalized populations who face disparities in safe housing options.
- Lifting up housing solutions in Tribal communities : In support of our racial equity work, the Consortium is coordinating with Native American and Alaska Native stakeholders and organizations to support their efforts to organize around developing safe housing options for survivors in their communities. The Consortium recently hosted a research briefing in Washington, D.C., which highlighted the nexus of housing instability and gender-based violence for American Indian and Alaska Native survivors, including findings from the National Tribal Housing Work Group, along with recommendations for practitioners, researchers, policy makers and funders. For the coming year, the Consortium TA team will support and coordinate with the National Tribal Housing Work Group to prioritize and implement their recommendations.
- Pilot to test DV Assessment Tool for coordinated entry : In partnership with Michigan State University’s Research Consortium on Gender-based Violence, the Consortium TA team will launch a pilot to test a coordinated entry assessment tool geared towards prioritizing and assessing domestic violence survivors for housing. While several tools are currently being used in coordinated entry and assessment, communities have experienced some challenges in effectively prioritizing survivors into housing options. There continues to be an urgent call to develop and test an alternative tool – particularly one that is trauma-informed. Dr. Heather McCauley from MSU is leading an effort to refine and pilot test an alternative tool based on the housing assessment tool created by Multnomah County, Oregon.
What DVHTAC resources should communities be aware of?
The TA team has developed some really great resources, including FAQs, research briefs, and TA guidance, that can be found on SafeHousingPartnerships.org . I would also direct people to the Safe Housing Partnerships channel on YouTube for recorded webinars on safe housing and DV Housing First.
Here are a few resources to check out:
- Creating Safe Housing Options for Survivors: Learning From and Expanding Research
- Community Based Participatory Research Toolkit
- Safety Planning for Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence: A Toolkit for Homeless/Housing Programs
- Choosing a Comparable Database: Aligning Data and Confidentiality, A Case Study for Domestic and Sexual Violence Coalitions
The Consortium’s collaborative TA Team includes Collaborative Solutions, Inc., the National Alliance for Safe Housing, the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, and Corporation for Supportive Housing. This unique partnership is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and includes the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.