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Housing Legislation will Help More Victims Find Safe Housing Options

February 24, 2017

The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) thanks Senator Cornyn (R-TX) for his leadership on the HEALS Act (Helping End Abusive Living Situations), a critical bill that will expand access and flexibility of transitional housing for survivors.

Today in Austin, Senator Cornyn announced his intention to introduce the HEALS Act which would ensure that federal resources from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are distributed to meet the unique needs of domestic violence victims.

“The HEALS legislation would ensure that transitional housing funding for domestic violence victims remains a priority, and that the length of assistance can be tailored to respond to a survivor’s specific safety and housing needs,” said Kim Gandy, NNEDV President and CEO.

Domestic violence is consistently identified as a significant factor in homelessness. A staggering 92 percent of homeless women report having experienced severe physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives, and upwards of 50 percent of all homeless women report that domestic violence was the immediate and direct cause of their homelessness. Domestic violence specific transitional housing is designed to support victims and is an effective way to help survivors leave emergency shelter, build resources, develop a plan for the next steps in their lives, and address the many complex issues they face. It offers victims time for safety planning, decision-making, and stabilization.

“Victims often need time to determine where it is safe to live, time to heal from injury and trauma, time to develop an education or employment plan, time to address civil and criminal legal matters, time to reconnect with their children, and so much more. We are grateful for Senator Cornyn’s advocacy for victims whose lives will be stronger because of these opportunities,” said Gandy.

Over the last several years, HUD resources for domestic violence transitional housing have been significantly reduced, reducing the capacity of communities to address survivors’ housing needs. The funding shifts are a result of changing priorities and a misalignment of performance measures. The HEALS Act would direct HUD to evaluate domestic violence programs on their ability to safely house survivors.

The legislation also directs HUD to conduct research into housing options for survivors and to report on funding trends.

“We are grateful for Senator Cornyn for hearing the need for domestic violence housing and developing a solution,” said Monica McLaughlin, NNEDV Deputy Director of Public Policy. “Housing is a critical component of safety. Survivors need a place to go where they can feel safe in order to rebuild their lives,” said McLaughlin.

Advocates and survivors consistently identify housing as a primary need. NNEDV works to increase awareness of survivors’ housing needs and to help improve system-wide access for victims and survivors.