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Gillibrand: Homeless domestic violence survivors shouldn’t be invisible

Under Current HUD Rule, Domestic Violence Survivors Who Are Homeless Are Essentially Treated As an Invisible Population, Leading to a Lack of Resources to Help Survivors Get Back on Their Feet Gillibrand to Call on President-elect Donald Trump’s Incoming Administration to Fix This Injustice

January 8, 2017

New York, N.Y. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced a new push calling on President-elect Donald Trump’s incoming administration to direct officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to permanently include homeless victims of domestic violence in its annual count of the homeless population. Currently, HUD does not require the count of these victims as part of the homeless population, resulting in underfunded programs and resources to help this vulnerable population get back on their feet.

“Domestic violence survivors are some of the most vulnerable people among us, and homelessness makes life even more dangerous for them,” said Senator Gillibrand. “They leave home because they live in fear that their lives, or their children’s lives, will be endangered if they don’t leave. But they have nowhere to go, and no one to ask for help, so they end up on the streets. That’s why I’m calling on President-Elect Trump’s transition team to direct the new HUD secretary to make domestic violence survivors a separate group when they calculate our homeless population. We need to make sure that the federal money going to our homeless shelters and non-profits is being allocated in the best way possible, so that homeless New Yorkers, including those who have experienced domestic violence, can get the help they need.”

Every year, HUD requires local Continuum of Care Coalitions in communities across New York and the country to report information about the homeless population for its annual Point-in-Time (PIT) Count. This data is critical in helping determine the size of the homeless population nationally and locally in New York City and helps dictate the federal policies and resources assisting homeless individuals and families across the country. Since victims of domestic violence and their children are not always counted, programs and resources to assist this vulnerable population are underfunded.

“Domestic violence is acknowledged to be a major generator of homelessness among women and families nationally.  Too often, however, homeless families fleeing abuse are invisible and do not receive the housing and services needed to break the cycle of violence. Mandating the counting of domestic violence survivors who are homeless or at risk of homelessness as part of HUD’s Point In Time Count will help address this oversight.  On behalf of the survivors New Destiny serves as well as the many other families in the United States affected by domestic violence, we thank Senator Gillibrand for her dedication to ensuring that no family should have to choose between safety and homelessness,” said Carol Corden, Executive Director at New Destiny Housing.

“As the nation’s leading victim assistance organization, Safe Horizon is proud to stand with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and our advocacy partners to insist that HUD include all homeless individuals and families – including those fleeing domestic violence — in the HUD Annual Point-In-Time (PIT) Count.  In a real estate market as tight and unforgiving as we have in New York City, we need a major federal investment in housing if we hope to keep domestic violence survivors and their families safe from harm. But here’s the catch — we can’t possibly hope to obtain such federal support if these individuals and families aren’t counted as homeless in the first place. We applaud Senator Gillibrand for insisting that the new Administration include domestic violence survivors fleeing abuse in the HUD PIT Count, and look forward to the day when our clients no longer have to choose between safety and homelessness,” said Ariel Zwang, CEO, Safe Horizon.

“For almost 50 years, Fortune has provided diversion and alternative to incarceration services to young people with criminal justice involvement and served youth and adults released from incarceration.  We know about the deep link between the trauma of domestic violence and criminal justice involvement, both for those personally injured and for children who grow up in families shaped by domestic violence.  We strongly support Senator Gillibrand’s proposal to count those made homeless by domestic violence in the annual HUD homeless count, thereby increasing resources available to meet their housing and service needs,” said JoAnne Page, President and CEO of the Fortune Society.

“The annual Point-in-Time count numbers are tied to funding decisions which determine whether service providers have the resources they need. Yet the final numbers are always a vast undercount, leaving homeless shelters across the country grossly underfunded,” said Nancy Downing, Executive Director of Covenant House New York. “It took services providers years to get youth recognized as a subcategory in the PIT Count, and although that number is still dramatically undercounted, at least youth are included. Domestic violence and trafficking survivors also deserve recognition as their own subpopulation, so that we can ensure they receive the services they need to break free from lives of violence and abuse.”

A copy of the letter to the President-elect may be found here.

Source: Office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

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