Domestic violence and homelessness are often interconnected. A January 2010 survey revealed that 12.3 percent of the sheltered homeless reported that they were victims of domestic violence. Also, in the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 2013 Hunger and Homelessness Survey, cities reported that on average 16 percent of a city’s homeless adults were victims of domestic violence.
A number of state and local governments have adopted laws that directly or indirectly provide housing protections for domestic violence victims and survivors. These laws allow victims and survivors to maintain their housing and prevent them from becoming homeless. The laws often work by removing the financial barriers a domestic violence survivor may face in keeping her/his housing or improving her/his safety through changes or requirements for the built environment (e.g., door locks, hallway lighting, etc.).
This issue brief provides a general introduction to the different types of laws that can be used to prevent domestic violence in multi-unit housing and reduce homelessness among domestic violence victims and survivors. The list is not intended to be exhaustive; many states are in the process of adopting and amending their laws to provide further protections to domestic violence victims and survivors. Attorneys, public health workers, and victim advocates should review the laws in their state and localities to ascertain the most current protections.