Emergency domestic violence (DV) housing programs offer a safe place for survivors and their children to escape to in a crisis situation. These housing programs are often different from what you might imagine a typical homeless shelter to look and feel like. The location of a DV housing program is usually kept confidential and residents are asked not to disclose the address to anyone, including friends and family. This means that residents can’t have visitors, and they must be dropped off and picked up several blocks from the housing program. Typically these programs serve women and those who identify as women, although more and more programs are increasing their capacity to serve male victims as well.
Emergency DV housing programs are usually in home-like settings. Depending on the space, sometimes residents have their own room or they must share a room with another resident and possibly her children. Responsibilities like cleaning and meal preparation are shared. Typically the length of stay in emergency DV programs is 45 days; however, most programs are flexible depending on when a woman secures transitional or permanent housing.
At emergency DV housing programs, advocates are on staff to support survivors and their families to obtain the information and resources they need to gain stability and heal from the abuse by providing the following support:
- Assistance obtaining important documents like: birth certificates, social security cards, driver’s licenses, etc.
- Referrals for obtaining protection orders and legal assistance.
- Help applying for public assistance and housing subsidies.
- Referrals to mental health and addiction services.
- Assistance enrolling children in nearby schools.
- Counseling and support groups for women and their children.
There are limited DV safe housing options in DC. A survivor who requires safe, confidential housing might consider DV safe housing programs in Virginia and Maryland.
The Crime Victims Compensation Program (CVCP) at the DC Superior Court offers another emergency housing option for many survivors in DC. This program is particularly useful when DV housing programs are filled to capacity. The CVCP assists DV survivors who applied for a protection order or filed a police report in DC to obtain emergency safe housing through the provision of a hotel voucher for a specific amount of time (usually 28 days).
To learn more about this option, and the other assistance the CVCP offers victims, visit: dccourts.gov/dccourts/superior/cvcp.jsp or call CVCP at 202.879.4216.