A place to live is a basic human need. An affordable place to live in Connecticut, especially in Fairfield County, is a challenge. A safe, affordable place to live almost anywhere in Connecticut all too often is an impossible dream for victims of domestic violence, who are fleeing their abusers and, in many cases, are cut off from previous sources of economic, emotional and family support.
DVCC's Housing Advocacy Project (HAP) works with individuals who seek refuge in its SafeHouses, as well as with clients participating in our counseling and legal services. Because SafeHouse residency is limited to 60 days, it is those clients who have the most pressing housing needs.
"HAP's main objective with SafeHouse residents is to move them forward as quickly as possible toward finding permanent housing," said DVCC Housing Advocate Katie Evans. "Unfortunately, that is much more easily said than done."
Since December, 18% of clients left the SafeHouse to live in their own apartment or rented room and 15% obtained placement in a Transitional Living Program (TLP), which provides a combination of supportive services and affordable housing. The rest went to stay with family or friends or found other temporary solutions. Several returned home without their abuser and one returned to a home where the abuser still resided.
Evans holds monthly workshops in the SafeHouses to explain housing options, rights, myths and realities and meets with clients one-on-one to work on individual needs. She reaches out to transitional programs, municipal housing authorities and has even negotiated with private landlords for a lower rent for clients. However, she noted that while nearly every SafeHouse resident applies to both TLP's and public housing, most do not obtain either.
"It's not for lack of trying," she said. "The reality is that realistic and affordable housing resources for victims of domestic violence simply do not exist in Connecticut."