West Valley Community News
VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE NEED SHELTER
by Congressman Brad Sherman
Domestic violence against women and children has been a major problem confronting our nation for decades, and it is one that causes trauma in families and havoc in our communities. In the United States, 50 percent of all homeless women and children are escaping some form of domestic violence. Unfortunately, due to a lack of safe shelter and money, many of these victims are forced to return to their abusers or simply remain homeless and hungry.
This is a vicious cycle that I am committed to stopping. Congress is taking major steps to reduce violence-induced homelessness by proposing initiatives which would provide housing to those women and children who are forced to leave their homes to escape the violence.
Among major cities surveyed across the country, 44 percent identified domestic violence cases as one of the primary causes for homelessness. A stable and protective home base is crucial for women and families who have left dangerous situations and are learning new job skills, striving for independence, going to school, working, or searching for adequate child care to maintain their full-time jobs.
Recently, I co-sponsored the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Victims' Housing Act, an important bill that deals with this severe problem. This bill would provide sensible housing assistance to those individuals or families who have been victimized by violence, stalking, adult or child sexual assault and have reason to believe that relocation would prevent future attacks on them or their children. By meeting the basic housing needs of victims of domestic violence, we create the opportunity for them to live full and rewarding lives and to provide meaningful contributions to the economy.
The housing alternatives proposed in the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Victims' Housing Act would provide victims with a stable transition from emergency shelter to independent living. Housing assistance would include money for a security deposit, first month's rent and on-going rental assistance on a case-by-case basis.
Under this legislation, the federal government would allocate funds through grants to local non-profit organizations. Receipt of federal money will be contingent on these groups providing up to 25 percent in matching funds from outside sources and keeping the names of all program participants confidential. This bill also encourages these local organizations to partner with local homeless coalitions and established public housing authorities.
I hope that this and other bills that address the adverse connection between homelessness and domestic violence will gain bipartisan support in the House. We need to ensure that victims of domestic violence, rape, incest and abuse or assault have adequate emergency and transitional shelter so they can achieve a fresh start, away from the violence they have endured for too long.