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Domestic Violence Action Research Collective Housing Study

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This is a report on an action-research project of the District of Columbia (DC) Coalition Against Domestic Violence to address housing needs of victims of domestic violence.


Although the link between housing needs and intimate partner violence (IPV) is well known, anecdotal evidence from domestic-violence practitioners in DC suggested that when IPV survivors entered DC’s Virginia Williams Family Resource Center (VWFRC), they experienced numerous problems that compromised, rather than supported, their safety and well-being. The VWFRC is the only governmental housing entry point for families experiencing homelessness or housing instability in DC. There was uncertainty about whether the VWFRC was appropriately screening for IPV during the initial housing intake and whether domestic-violence trauma history was being considered when making housing placement decisions. This suggested the need for a systematic collection of empirical evidence to guide policy and action. The project described in this report involved the creation and action of researchers and practitioners to design and implement a community-based, participatory research study led by the Domestic Violence Action Research Collective (DVARC). The DVARC includes victimization researchers, advocates, and practitioners, who cooperate to generate an evidence base that will guide responses to IPV survivors in multiple systems across DC. DVARC used the funding period to design and implement the first phase of a multi-phase exploratory, mixed-methods, community-based research study. The study’s goals included identifying the assessment questions that the VWFRC staff used to assess whether domestic violence was the primary cause of current homelessness and how the screening process influenced survivors’ future decision-making. This report indicates data sources and findings of the research, and it discusses implications for policy and practice, as well as how to sustain the partnership.