Domestic violence survivors’ most urgent priority is housing, report says
Some studies have found that more than 90% of domestic violence survivors also experience economic abuse. (Getty Images)
Housing is the most common unmet need for domestic violence survivors in Nevada, according to the recently released National Network to End Domestic Violence’s (NNEDV) 17th Annual Domestic Violence Counts report.
The Nevada annual report is based on 571 people who sought domestic violence services in a 24-hour period on Sept. 7, 2022, including the services needed, barriers to care, and impacts of federal policy changes.
Of those 571 people, 291 victims of domestic violence were placed in emergency shelters, transitional housing, hotels, motels, or other housing provided by local domestic violence programs. The other 280 survivors received non-residential supportive services which included housing advocacy, legal support, and mental health.
Of the 33 whose requests went unmet, 23 were for emergency shelters, hotels, motels, and other housing.
“The thing we are least able to provide is housing,” Elizabeth Abdur-Raheem, the executive director of Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence (NCEDVS), said. “Another big thing that has to do with domestic violence and housing is that 99% of victims and survivors of domestic violence have experienced financial abuse. ”
Nearly 44% of Nevada women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, according to a 2022 “Women’s Safety in Nevada” report from UNLV’s Women’s Research Institute.
But policies have failed to successfully confront the ways financial and economic abuse plays a role in domestic violence.
Some studies have found that more than 90% of domestic violence survivors also experience economic abuse, which can include coerced debt like applying for loans or credit cards in the victim’s name without their permission damaging their credit score, refinancing a home without a victim’s knowledge, forbidding them to work, and repeatedly filing costly lawsuits during separation.
Nevada does not define economic abuse in state law, offer litigation protection, safe banking protections, or coerced debt protections, according to FreeForm, a collective grassroots movement dedicated to understanding the intersection of domestic violence and economic abuse.
Domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness for women and children in America, and economic abuse creates barriers to housing security and perpetuates homelessness in survivors.
Nevada has a shortage of beds in the state for domestic violence survivors, and while the state did receive funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for housing vouchers, those funds were limited said Abdur-Raheem. ARPA funds will end in the next three years. States have until Dec. 23 2024 to decide where ARPA funds go and spend them until Dec. 31, 2026, according to the National Conference of State Legislature. The state, Clark County, and the City of Las Vegas all rejected the domestic violence nonprofit SafeNest proposal to use ARPA funds to build a 365-bed facility with 90 private rooms. The National Domestic Violence Hotline operates a 24/7 hotline in English, Spanish and 200+ languages at 800-799-7233. Crisis Support Services of Nevada operates its own hotline at 775-221-7600 or text SASS to 839863 for free, confidential support.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline operates a 24/7 hotline in English, Spanish and 200+ languages at 800-799-7233. Crisis Support Services of Nevada operates its own hotline at 775-221-7600 or text SASS to 839863 for free, confidential support.
“Domestic violence programs continue to face insufficient funding at the federal, tribal, state, territorial, and local levels. This funding can mean the difference between staying with an abuser or safely leaving. It’s unacceptable for survivors to be denied the help they need, often leaving them with no choice but to remain with an abuser and vulnerable to further violence, potentially with deadly consequences,” Monica McLaughlin, NNEDV’s Senior Director of Public Policy, said in a press release.
Only 13 out of 18 identified domestic violence programs in Nevada participated in a national count of domestic violence services. Abdur-Raheem said it wasn’t that the providers didn’t want to participate but that they couldn’t because they lacked the staffing to track the services and were focused on helping survivors.
Nevada also does not have designated funding to prevent domestic violence or assist survivors in its budget, and the only state funding domestic violence providers receive is through marriage certificate fees, Abdur-Raheem said.
“The state budget and the federal budget are value documents,” she said. “When we leave out the people who are the most vulnerable and the people who are working with the most vulnerable we are making a statement about our values.”
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