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Special Collection: Housing and Sexual Violence

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Introduction | Back to top

The relationship between sexual violence and housing is multi-layered and complex. Safe and affordable housing is a protective factor against sexual violence (both victimization and perpetration) and a basic need in recovering from a sexual assault. The majority of sexual assaults take place in or near victims’ homes or the homes of friends, relatives, or neighbors. Because of this, many victims wish to relocate after their sexual assaults, but often find they cannot do so because of limited resources. The effects of sexual violence can create an economic downward spiral for many victims, jeopardizing their access to safe and affordable housing. Homelessness increases the risks for both sexual violence perpetration and victimization.

This collection was developed by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center to assist communities in developing more effective strategies to address this complex issue. Additional resources, including book titles, articles, reports, and journals can be found by browsing the library at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center or sending information requests to resources@nsvrc.org.

* See the parallel Special Collection: Housing and Domestic Violence.

Overview of Sexual Violence and Homelessness | Back to top

  • Housing and Sexual Violence Fact Sheet | PDF PDF (2 p.)
    by National Sexual Violence Resource Center (July 2010)
    This two page fact sheet offers information on the impact of housing costs, housing and various forms of oppression, and how advocates can help.
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  • Housing and Sexual Violence: Overview of National Survey | PDF PDF (12 p.)
    by National Sexual Violence Resource Center (July 2010)
    This report provides a summary of key survey findings from a national survey on housing and sexual violence.
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  • Sexual Violence and Homelessness | PDF PDF (2 p.)
    by Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (March 2006)
    This bulletin discusses the links between homelessness and sexual violence, barriers to receiving services and information on what rape crisis centers can do to meet the needs of people who are homeless.
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  • No Safe Place: Sexual Assault in the Lives of Homeless Women | PDF PDF (13 p.) HTML HTML
    by Lisa A. Goodman, Ph.D., Katya Fels, & Catherine Glenn, M.A., VAWnet: The National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women (September 2006)
    This paper consolidates knowledge about the damaging interplay between homelessness and sexual violence. It clarifies steps researchers, policy-makers, and service providers can take to intervene with victims and prevent future sexual assaults.
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  • Homelessness and Family Trauma: The Case for Early Intervention | PDF PDF (6 p.)
    by National Healthcare for the Homeless Council (2003)
    This edition of Healing Hands presents an overview of the effects of domestic violence, abuse and neglect on young children and discusses strategies for treatment and prevention for people who are homeless.
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  • Homeless, Runaway & Throwaway Youth: Sexual Victimization and the Consequences of Life on the Streets | PDF PDF (16 p.)
    by Janet Anderson, Editor, Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs (October 2004)
    Volume 7, Issue 1 of the Research and Advocacy Digest focuses on the intersection between sexual victimization and homeless youth, and provides an overview of research on this topic area.
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  • Homeless Youth and Sexual Exploitation: Research Findings and Practice Implications | PDF PDF (14 p.)
    by National Alliance to End Homelessness (2009)
    This issue brief reviews research regarding the involvement of unaccompanied, homeless youth in various types of sexual exploitation. The article recommends a series of programmatic responses to meet their needs.
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  • Preventing Homelessness and Ensuring Housing Rights for Victims of Landlord Sexual Assault | PDF PDF (59 p.)
    by Terri Keeley, National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (2006)
    This report discusses the results of a survey of landlord sexual assault and/or rape of tenants. It explores the ways that sexual violence may contribute to homelessness and restricted access to housing for individuals with low incomes.
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  • Overview of Homelessness in Minnesota 2006: Key facts from the statewide survey | PDF PDF (61 p.)
    by Wilder Research Center (April 2007)
    Drawn from interviews with more than 3,000 homeless adults and youth throughout Minnesota, this research describes some of the causes, effects and circumstances surrounding homelessness.
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  • Pathways to and from Homelessness: Women And Children In Chicago Shelters | PDF PDF (16 p.)
    by R. Levin, L. McKean, & J. Raphael, Center For Impact Research (2004)
    This report provides information from structured interviews with 45 homeless women living in emergency shelters (not domestic violence shelters) in Chicago during May, June, and July 2003.
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Housing Needs of Sexual Assault Survivors | Back to top

  • Housing In America: Recent Research On Housing Trends
    by Campaign For Housing And Community Development Funding (December 2003)
    This fact sheet (available from the NRCDV) provides current information, charts and statistics on the lack of affordability of housing. It provides current information on rural housing, people with disabilities and immigrant families.
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  • Why Are People Homeless? | PDF PDF (7 p.)
    by National Coalition For The Homeless (2009)
    This fact sheet provides an overview of current poverty and housing statistics, as well as additional factors contributing to homelessness. A list of resources for further study is also provided.
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  • Unlocking the Door, A Call to Action
    by The Women And Housing Task Force, McAuley Institute (1996)
    This report (available from the NRCDV) informs advocates of the needs of women trying to secure safe, affordable housing. Divided into 13 issues, it includes an overview, statistics and recommendations for action, a resource list, and a success story.
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  • Women Need Safe, Stable, Affordable Housing: A Study of Social Housing, Private Rental Housing and Co-Op Housing in Winnipeg | HTML HTML (50 p.) PDF PDF (50 p.)
    by M. McCracken & G. Watson, Prairie Women's Health Centre Of Excellence (2004)
    This report describes the differences between private, public, and cooperative housing in Winnipeg, Canada and supports the notion that co-op housing, because it is designed to give residents a voice in governance, better suits the needs of women.
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Resources for Victim Service Professionals and Other Providers | Back to top

  • Housing and Sexual Violence Technical Assistance Bulletin | PDF PDF (4 p.)
    by National Sexual Violence Resource Center (July 2010)
    Sexual violence and housing are intricately linked by several factors including access to affordable housing, various forms of oppression and sex offender management. This bulletin covers these topics including how advocates can help survivors.
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  • 2010 Advocates' Guide to Housing and Community Development Policy | PDF PDF (284 p.)
    by National Low Income Housing Coalition (2010)
    This guide, issued/updated annually, is an extremely practical and useful document for its breadth of review of federal housing-related programs such as CDBG, Fair Housing, HOPE VI, Housing Choice Vouchers, McKinney-Vento, and Public Housing.
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  • The Violence Against Women Act: A Housing Toolkit for Advocates | PDF PDF (104 p.)
    by National Housing Law Project (2008)
    This toolkit is designed to provide advocates with an overview of VAWA’s housing provisions and includes administrative guidance, recent legal developments, and sample advocacy materials.
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  • Fight Hate: A Prevention and Response Guide for America's Neighborhoods. Community Guide | PDF PDF (32 p.)
    by National Fair Housing Alliance and Leadership Conference Education Fund (2000)
    This manual provides legal information and steps to build prevention and response strategies to housing related hate activities.
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  • Federal Housing Resource Guide | PDF PDF (15 p.)
    Technical Assistance Collaborative (2001)
    This manual lays out federal housing programs including programs for the elderly and section 8 housing.
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  • Homeless Assistance Programs: A Guide To Counting Unsheltered Homeless People | PDF PDF (123 p.)
    by US Department Of Housing And Urban Development (Updated January 2008)
    This guide is offered in chapters and covers the basics of counting unsheltered homeless people, counting unsheltered people in public places, counts based on use of non-shelter services and sample data collection instruments.
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  • Women’s Homeless Shelters: Information Resources for the Homeless | HTML HTML (4 p.)
    by Housing and Urban Development (2008)
    This website provides resources and contact information for shelters specifically for women.
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Public Policy Approaches | Back to top

Federal: Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) 2005 Housing Provisions
VAWA 2005 (Public Law 109-162) is the second reauthorization of the historic Violence Against Women Act originally passed by the U.S. Congress in 1994. In VAWA 2005, there was, for the first time, a concentrated focus on housing issues explicitly related to domestic and sexual violence. These new provisions appear in Title VI.
  • The Impact of the Violence Against Women Act of 2005 (VAWA) on the Housing Rights and Options of Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence | PDF PDF (10 p.)
    by National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (March 2006)
    This Q&A document explains the key housing provisions of VAWA 2005, including housing-related grant programs, amendments to public housing and section 8 regarding eviction defense, eligibility, and portability, HMIS changes, and new planning requirements.
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  • VAWA Confidentiality | HTML HTML (1 p.)
    by National Network to End Domestic Violence (2009)
    This is a Q&A about VAWA, how it works and what information it protects.
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  • VAWA 2005 and Public and Section 8 Housing | HTML HTML (4 p.)
    by National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (2009)
    This wiki provides information on the requirements for Public Housing Authorities and Section 8 landlords under VAWA, including HUD Guidance and model Public Housing Authority plans.
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Federal: Affordable Housing
Affordable housing, under federal guidelines, is housing that costs an owner or renter no more than 30% of household income. Households are "rent burdened" if they pay between 30 and 50 percent of income towards housing costs. Those households paying more than 50% of their income towards housing costs are considered "severely rent burdened."
  • America's Neighbors: The Affordable Housing Crisis And The People It Affects | PDF PDF (21 p.)
    by National Low Income Housing Coalition (February 2004)
    This short report is an excellent source for statistics on housing issues from a national perspective. The report analyzes housing problems in comparison to food insecurity and lack of health insurance. It is an excellent resource for talking points.
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  • Out Of Reach 2010: Renters in the Great Recession, the Crisis Continues | PDF PDF (226 p.)
    by National Low Income Housing Coalition (June 2010)
    This report analyzes the national housing wage for a two bedroom unit, lack of affordable housing for extremely low income renters, inadequacy of minimum wage earnings and SSI benefits to pay for housing, and the insufficiency of the average renter wage.
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  • Priced Out In 2008: The Housing Crisis for People with Disabilities | PDF PDF (54 p.)
    by Emily Cooper, Henry Korman, Ann O’Hara, and Andrew Zovistoski, Technical Assistance Collaborative, Inc. & Consortium For Citizens w/Disabilities Housing Task Force (2009)
    This biannual report helps measure the gap between HUD's Fair Market Rents and the incomes of individuals and families who rely on monthly SSI benefits, to shed light on the housing crisis being faced by people with disabilities.
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  • Federal Housing Resource Guide | PDF PDF (15 p.)
    Technical Assistance Collaborative (2001)
    This manual lays out federal housing programs including programs for the elderly and section 8 housing.
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  • Decade Of HOPE VI: Research Findings And Policy Challenges | HTML HTML (72 p.) PDF PDF (72 p.)
    by B. Katz, M. Cunningham, K. Brown, J. Gustafson, & M. A. Turner, Urban Institute (2004)
    This research and policy report offers an extensive overview of the HOPE VI program. The introduction provides historical background, evaluation challenges and suggested reforms. It includes a description of the policy debates surrounding HOPE VI.
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  • The Violence Against Women Act: A Housing Toolkit for Advocates | PDF PDF (104 p.)
    by National Housing Law Project (2008)
    This toolkit is designed to provide advocates with an overview of VAWA’s housing provisions and includes administrative guidance, recent legal developments, and sample advocacy materials.
    + View Summary
Federal: Discrimination & Fair Housing
Discrimination & fair housing refers to laws, policies and practices addressing unequal and biased treatment of people based upon prohibited classifications, e.g. race or color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (having one or more children under the age of 18) or disability.
  • The Future of Fair Housing: Report of the National Commission on Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity | PDF PDF (99 p.)
    by National Fair Housing Alliance (December 2008)
    This report presents a summary of recommendations from the National Commission on Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
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  • A Step in the Right Direction: 2010 Fair Housing Trends Report | PDF PDF (57 p.)
    by National Fair Housing Alliance (May 2010)
    This report makes recommends to improve the state of fair housing in the U.S. Additionally, the 2005 report specifically addresses the nature and extent of racial segregation in the U.S.
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  • Discrimination in Metropolitan Housing Markets: National Results from Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3 of the Housing Discrimination Study (HDS) | HTML HTML (5 p.)
    by M. Turner & S. Ross (2005)
    These reports focuses on housing discrimination experienced by African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans when they search for housing in metropolitan areas.
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  • Housing Discrimination Against Abused Women | PDF PDF (2 p.)
    by National Law Center On Homelessness & Poverty (2006)
    This Q&A discusses discrimination in housing and the legal avenues that DV survivors can use. This includes information regarding the Fair Housing Act and when to contact an attorney.
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State and Local
  • State Law Guide: Housing Protections for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence and Stalking | HTML HTML
    by Legal Momentum (Updated Regularly)
    This guide lists state laws and recent legislative proposals addressing DV and SA housing-related issues, including prohibitions on housing discrimination, defenses to eviction, termination of leases, and penalties for seeking police assistance.
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Housing Rights Information | Back to top

  • Housing Rights of Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence | HTML HTML (3 p.)
    by Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
    Brochures, flyers and tools are available for download and distribution in a variety of languages regarding the housing rights of victims of domestic and sexual violence.
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  • Housing Rights of Survivors with Disabilities | PDF PDF (29 p.)
    by National Housing Law Project (2008)
    This slideshow covers common housing issues that survivors with disabilities face; housing rights and protections available for survivors with disabilities; and using reasonable accommodation laws to advocate for survivors' housing needs.
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  • The Safe Homes Act and VAWA: How to Protect Victims of Violence in Private Rental Market, Public, and Subsidized Housing Webinar | PDF PDF (41 p.)
    by Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law (December 2008)
    This slideshow is from a webinar for victim service providers to discuss how to protect the housing rights of victims of violence under the Safe Homes Act and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
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  • Public Housing Occupancy Guidebook | PDF PDF (235 p.)
    by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (2003)
    The HUD Public Housing Occupancy Guidebook is a reference tool for public housing staff. There is not a specific chapter about sexual violence, but it does include information about nondiscrimination and civil rights.
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Additional Resources: Organizations | Back to top

Council for Affordable and Rural Housing
"The Council for Affordable and Rural Housing (CARH) is a national non-profit trade organization. For 30 years, CARH has served as the nation's premier association for participants in the affordable rural housing profession, including: Builders, Owners, Developers, Managers, Non-profits, Housing Authorities, Syndicators, Accountants, Architects, Attorneys, Bankers, and Companies that supply goods and services to the industry. There is no other association that solely represents the needs of the entire rural housing industry."

National Alliance to End Homelessness
"The National Alliance to End Homelessness is a leading voice on the issue of homelessness. The Alliance analyzes policy and develops pragmatic, cost-effective policy solutions. The Alliance works collaboratively with the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to build state and local capacity, leading to stronger programs and policies that help communities achieve their goal of ending homelessness."

National Housing Law Project
"NHLP works to achieve its mission through public policy advocacy and by providing legal and technical assistance, training, publications, and resources to a broad audience of housing attorneys and affordable housing advocacy organizations. Our initiatives focus on issues that will have the greatest impact on the housing rights of the poor."

National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty
"People fleeing domestic violence experience a state of uncertainty; gathering clothes, children, and medicine as they leave. What are their housing options? A shelter, a friend's couch, public housing, the street? NLCHP's Domestic Violence Program works to improve access to housing for domestic violence survivors and their families. We work to develop and implement policy changes, build networks, and broaden education efforts in the housing, legal, and domestic violence communities. Our efforts expand access to housing for those fleeing abuse. We also prevent victims of domestic violence from losing their housing due to the violence committed against them."

National Low Income Housing Coalition
"The National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that assures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes. We hope you will use our website to learn more about housing affordability in your community and nationally, and to help you take action for better and more affordable housing choices."

National Network to End Domestic Violence: Transitional Housing
"NNEDV provides technical assistance to state domestic violence coalitions, local domestic violence programs, other nonprofit organizations, and local and state agencies in creating best practices for transitional housing and related services for women fleeing domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. Transitional housing and related services bridge the gap from leaving a violent home to self-sufficiency by providing short-term housing assistance, including rental or utilities payment assistance; support services to locate and secure permanent housing; and services such as transportation, child care and employment counseling."

Office on Violence Against Women: Transitional Housing Assistance Program
"The OVW Transitional Housing Assistance Program Grant for Victims of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Stalking, or Sexual Assault Program (Transitional Housing Assistance Program) focuses on a holistic, victim-centered approach to provide transitional housing services that move individuals into permanent housing. Grants made under this grant program support programs that provide assistance to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking who are in need of transitional housing, short-term housing assistance, and related support services. It is critical that successful transitional housing programs provide a wide range of flexible and optional services that reflect the differences and individual needs of victims and that allows victims to choose the course of action that is best for them. Transitional housing programs may offer individualized services such as counseling, support groups, safety planning, and advocacy services as well as practical services such as licensed child care, employment services, transportation vouchers, telephones, and referrals to other agencies. Trained staff and case managers may also be available to work with clients to help them determine and reach their goals."

SAMHSA Homelessness Resource Center
The Homelessness Resource Center is an "interactive community of providers, consumers, policymakers, researchers, and public agencies at federal, state, and local levels. We share state-of-the art knowledge and promising practices to prevent and end homelessness through: training and technical assistance; publications and materials; on-line learning opportunities; and networking and collaboration."

US Department of Housing and Urban Development
"HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business."

USDA: Rural Information Center
"The Rural Information Center (RIC) provides services for rural communities, local officials, organizations, businesses and rural citizens working to maintain the vitality of America's rural areas."