Women that are living with their abuser are stuck between staying and enduring his beatings or being homeless. It takes multiple attempts of leaving before a woman decides to leave for good. In these situations, it is likely that the abuser has control over her financial stability and has isolated her from her support systems. In order to assure her safety, she leaves even if she may not have a place to go.
The majority of homeless women have experienced domestic violence. In 2008, 28% of families were homeless due to domestic violence. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, a study in Massachusetts found that 92 percent of homeless women had experienced severe physical or sexual assault at some point in their lives, 63 percent had been victims of violence by an intimate partner, and 32 percent had been assaulted by their current or most recent partner. The lack of affordable housing and long waiting lists for assisted housing forces many women and their children to choose between abuse at home and life on the streets.
Due to high demand, women and their families may only have 60 days in an emergency shelter. It takes a minimum of 6 months to find housing but emergency shelters. 60 days is not enough time for them to find affordable housing, resulting Women and their families experiencing multiple occasions of homelessness.
There are many issues with affordable housing but it ultimately impacts battered women and their families. Some say that the minimum wage should be increased to ensure better economic stability and support. In Los Angeles, California, it takes 3.4 minimum wage jobs or $33/hour to afford housing. A woman without work experience, education or limited resources will not be able to pay the bills.
Others suggest that more affordable housing should be built in our cities. However, victims of domestic violence living in public housing sometimes face unfair eviction and denial of housing benefits. Although the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has provisions to protect victims from such discrimination, it is unfortunate that some may have this experiences when searching for housing. No matter what ends up being the solution to the homeless epidemic in the United States, one thing is clear – women and children are currently being left without options.
Good Shepherd Shelter currently has space for 12 mothers and their families. Each family has the opportunity not only to live in a stable home for about a year, but they also are able to heal and work through their traumas. Being privately funded, it allows the families to stay at Good Shepherd Shelter as long as they need, if they are complying with the program requirements. This allows for the women to have a fair chance at finding a place to live that is safe and a stable job before they leave the shelter.
Of course, 12 families a year is making a small but significant difference; however, Good Shepherd Shelter would like to do more. We are currently raising $125,000 to eliminate our mortgage debt in order to expand the program. The hope is that we can service more families than we have in the past 37 years. If you would like to help Good Shepherd Shelter achieve this goal, please donate by visiting our Good Shepherd Shelter Grows Grant campaign.