Investments in this strategy aim to reduce the number of families in abusive homes by streamlining the process of finding new housing, putting in place policies that address survivors’ financial and legal challenges, facilitating gainful employment through day care and public transport, and linking survivors with social, medical, and support services and advocates. The sections below include an overview of the strategy for achieving desired goals, supporting evidence, core metrics that help measure performance toward goals, and a curated list of resources to support collecting, reporting on, and using data for decision-making.
A majority of homeless women report that domestic violence was the immediate cause of their homelessness (4), and children of homeless mothers are also more likely to have emotional or behavioral problems (3). For any individuals in unsafe housing situations who face abuse and cannot find alternate, stable housing, the outcomes associated with this investment strategy are likely critical—to the physical and mental health of victims, their families, and especially their children (6).
Survivors of domestic assault frequently report having great difficulty finding new housing (4). Investments in this theme can streamline this process; since domestic violence survivors routinely face discrimination when searching for housing (often due to their abusers’ behavior), property managers can work with social service organizations and advocates to understand the particular issues surrounding domestic violence (4).
Interested in understanding how gender relates to this strategy? Check out the gender lens summary and metrics created to complement this theme: Improving Access to Housing for Women and Gender and Sexual Minorities.
In the United States, 44% of mayors identify domestic violence as the primary cause of homelessness in their cities (4). Per reports by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, more than 80% of mothers with children who experience homelessness have previously experienced domestic violence, and their children are more likely to have emotional or behavioral problems (3). A study of 3,400 shelter residents in domestic violence programs across eight states found that, at the time of shelter entry, 84% of survivors identified assistance finding affordable housing as one of their main needs (5).
While this strategy has many potential beneficiaries, with the specific intended beneficiaries varying by investor preference, abusive housing conditions in many developed markets primarily affect the following individuals, who are therefore more frequently targeted:
Women: Investments seeking to reduce domestic abuse primarily target women, although, importantly, not all victims are women. In the U.S., sixty-three percent of homeless women have suffered domestic abuse in their adult lifetimes, compared to around 10% of men (1).
Children: Among children, particularly children of single-parent households (largely headed by women), domestic abuse is the leading cause of homelessness. Domestic trauma can prolong homelessness for children and families (1). In addition, violence against young children can also create significant challenges later in life in terms of their physical and mental health, as well as their educational and employment outcomes.
LGBTQ Individuals: More than 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, suffering social stigma and discrimination. LGBTQ youth are often rejected by their families and correspondingly face higher incidence of domestic abuse and significantly higher incidence of homelessness (2).
Though domestic violence impacts the lives of both rural and urban individuals, U.S. data show that impacts a higher percentage of rural women than urban women (22.5% compared to 15.5%), and that women in rural locations reported more severe physical abuse than urban women (11). The same study also found that rural women lived three times further from the nearest domestic violence resource than their urban counterparts, with over 25% of rural women living over 40 miles from the closest program. In the U.K., a study found urban and rural rates of domestic violence to be very similar, suggesting that perhaps this gap in domestic violence rates and access is country-specific (12). Abusive homes are found in all developed economies, with the U.K., U.S., Australia, Poland, and Romania having comparatively high levels (13).
The extent to which this strategy can reduce the number of individuals in abusive homes depends on the particular affordable housing project and the nature of the housing brought to market. Housing accessibility requires units that are physically, financially, and intellectually accessible to their intended end beneficiaries, and many investees rely on nonprofit or government case workers to place individuals in their units. As part of this strategy, end beneficiaries often require additional support to ensure their occupancy is sustainable and that they have successfully removed themselves from dangerous, abusive situations.
The number of individuals who this strategy can target is dependent on the number of individuals living in abusive environments for whom housing presents the primary barrier to exit. Offering accessible housing is but one essential element of a comprehensive solution for those trapped in abusive situations, so adequate statistics are scarce regarding the number of individuals who might be helped by this strategy (6).
The amount of change that end beneficiaries can receive through this strategy depends on the housing itself, any additional support services offered alongside the housing, and the extent to which the investment succeeds in providing a stable, abuse-free environment to its inhabitants.
New Destiny Housing is a New York City nonprofit that develops affordable rental units for low-income families with a focus on providing on-site services tailored specifically to families coming from the domestic violence shelter system. To avoid stigmatizing survivors, their buildings always include a mix of tenants, including low-income families without a history of abuse. Additionally, New Destiny facilitates access to housing by developing relationships with third-party landlords and by providing support to women during the rental process. In 2013, New Destiny converted an existing Bronx apartment building into The Morris, a 39-unit affordable residence in which half of the units are reserved for survivors of domestic abuse. As with all of their buildings, New Destiny’s program staff offers on-site support, including case management, recreational activities, and referrals to specialized services (10).
“Domestic Violence and Homelessness: Statistics.” Family and Youth Services Bureau, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Last updated June 24, 2016. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/fysb/resource/dv-homelessness-stats-2016
“LGBT Homelessness.” National Coalition for the Homeless. http://nationalhomeless.org/issues/lgbt/
United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. “Homelessness Among Families with Children.” Fact sheet. https://www.usich.gov/resources/uploads/asset_library/FactSheetFamilieswithChildren.pdf
National Network to End Domestic Violence. “Domestic Violence, Housing, and Homelessness.” Fact sheet. https://nnedv.org/mdocs-posts/domestic-violence-housing-and-homelessness/
Eleanor Lyon, Shannon Lane, and Anne Menard. Meeting Survivors’ Needs: A Multi-State Study of Domestic Violence Shelter Experiences. University of Connecticut School of Social Work and the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, October 2008. https://vawnet.org/sites/default/files/materials/files/2016-08/MeetingSurvivorsNeeds-FullReport.pdf
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “National Statistics.” https://ncadv.org/statistics
Kiley Gosselin. “Positive Outcomes for Victims of Domestic Violence and Families through Housing First Pilot Program.” United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (blog). February 25, 2015. https://www.usich.gov/news/positive-outcomes-for-victims-of-domestic-violence-and-families-through-hou
Amber Clough, Jessica E. Draughon, Veronica Njie-Carr, Chiquita Rollins, and Nancy Glass. “‘Having Housing Made Everything Else Possible’: Affordable, Safe, and Stable Housing for Women Survivors of Violence.” Qualitative Social Work 13, no. 5 (September 2013): 671–88. ”$”:http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1473325013503003
Charlene K. Baker, Sarah Cook, and Fran H. Norris. “Domestic Violence and Housing Problems.” Violence Against Women 9, No. 7 (July 2003): 754–83. http://socialsciences.people.hawaii.edu/publications_lib/domestic%20violence%20and%20housing.pdf
New Destiny Housing. http://www.newdestinyhousing.org/
Peek-Asa, Corinne, Anne Wallis, Karisa Harland, Kirsten Beyer, Penny Dickey, and Audrey Saftlas. “Rural Disparity in Domestic Violence Prevalence and Access to Resources.” Journal of Women’s Health 20, no. 11 (2011): 1743-1749. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3216064/
McCarry, Melanie, and Emma Williamson. “Violence Against Women in Rural and Urban Areas.” (2009). University of Bristol.
WHO. “Violence Against Women.” Fact sheet. Last updated November 2016. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/
This mapped evidence shows what outcomes and impacts this strategy can have, based on academic and field research.
Paul A. Toro. “Toward An International Understanding of Homelessness.“ Journal of Social Issues 63, no. 3 (2007): 461-481.
Amber Clough, Jessica E. Draughon, Veronica Njie-Carr, Chiquita Rollins, and Nancy Glass. “‘Having Housing Made Everything Else Possible’: Affordable, Safe and Stable Housing for Women Survivors of Violence.“ Qualitative Social Work 13, no. 5 (2014): 671-688.
Charlene K.Baker, Phyllis Holditch Niolon, and Hilary Oliphant. “A Descriptive Analysis of Transitional Housing Programs for Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence in the United States.“ Violence Against Women 15, no. 4 (2009): 460-481.
Joanne Pavao, Jennifer Alvarez, Nikki Baumrind, Marta Induni, and Rachel Kimerling. “Intimate Partner Violence and Housing Instability.“ American Journal of Preventive Medicine 32, no. 2 (2007): 143-146.
Ann L. Coker, Keith E. Davis, Ileana Arias, Sujata Desai, Maureen Sanderson, Heather M. Brandt, and Paige H. Smith. “Physical and Mental Health Effects of Intimate Partner Violence for Men and Women.“ American Journal of Preventive Medicine23, no. 4 (2002): 260-268.
Charlene K. Baker, Sarah L. Cook, and Fran H. Norris. “Domestic Violence and Housing Problems: A Contextual Analysis of Women’s Help-seeking, Received Informal Support, and Formal System Response.“ Violence Against Women 9, no. 7 (2003): 754-783.
Angela Browne, and Shari S. Bassuk. “Intimate Volence in the Lives of Homeless and Poor Housed Women: Prevalence and Patterns in an Ethnically Diverse Sample.“ American journal of orthopsychiatry 67, no. 2 (1997): 261.
Ellen L. Bassuk, and Lynn Rosenberg. “Why Does Family Homelessness Occur? A Case-Control Study.“ American Journal of Public Health 78, no. 7 (1988): 783-788.
Ellen L. Bassuk, Lenore Rubin, and Alison S. Lauriat. “Characteristics of Sheltered Homeless Families.“ American Journal of Public Health 76, no. 9 (1986): 1097-1101.
Sascha Griffing, Deborah Fish Ragin, Sheena M. Morrison, Robert E. Sage, Lorraine Madry, and Beny J. Primm. “Reasons for Returning to Abusive Relationships: Effects of Prior Victimization.“ Journal of Family Violence 20, no. 5 (2005): 341-348.
Kiley Gosselin. “Positive Outcomes for Victims of Domestic Violence and Families Through Housing First Pilot Program.” United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, 2015.
Each resource is assigned a rating of rigor according to the NESTA Standards of Evidence.
Number of housing units constructed as a result of investment by the organization during the reporting period.
Organizations should footnote all assumptions that went into calculating or counting new units, as well as the sources of their data.
The total number of new units constructed should be easily accessible from the developer or architect of the project. Depending on the nature of the investment vehicle, mandated reporting against this metric by the project developer may merit inclusion in a terms sheet to guarantee high-quality, timely data. Organizations should count new units as complete at the conclusion of their construction—meaning at the point when they could reasonably be occupied.
This metric is essential to understand the scale of potential impact delivered by the investment. New units of housing are necessary in order to deliver on outcomes related to the affordable occupancy of these units.
Number of housing units rehabilitated or preserved as a result of investment by the organization during the reporting period.
Organizations should footnote all assumptions that went into calculating or counting preserved or rehabilitated units, as well as the sources of their data.
The total number of rehabilitated/preserved affordable housing units should be easily accessible from the project developer or management company. Depending on the nature of the investment vehicle, reporting against this metric by the project developer or management company may merit inclusion in a terms sheet to guarantee high-quality, timely data.
Like the number of units of affordable housing, this metric is essential to understand the scale of the potential impact delivered by the investment. Preservation and rehabilitation of new units are necessary in order to deliver on outcomes related to the affordable occupancy of these units.
Number of individuals housed or projected to be housed in single-family or multi-family dwellings as a result of new construction, loans, repairs, or remodeling resulting from investments made by the organization during the reporting period.
Organizations should footnote whether they are reporting on the number of individuals housed or the number of individuals projected to be housed. For reasons related to the structure of the investment vehicle, organizations may prefer and choose either. Organizations should also footnote the source of the data.
These data should be available at an individual investee level; if not, it can sometimes be found from public sources (depending on source of funding for the housing development). U.S. household-level data per decade are also available in the U.S. Census.
This metric captures the number of individuals who are provided housing in this unit. Measuring against this metric helps to articulate the performance of the product (housing, in this case). Constructed/preserved units are useful as a means of delivering impact only insofar as they are occupied. Ideally, this metric can also be understood alongside potential individuals housed by a project as a means to understand occupancy rate. In particular for individuals living in abusive homes, Organizations may also want to include beneficiary designations (e.g., Number of Individuals Housed: Women, Children).
Number of reports issued to the local police or enforcement office regarding issues of domestic abuse.
Organizations should footnote the type and number of each sort of violation. Organizations should also footnote the source of their data, as well as any assumptions that went into calculating this metric.
This metric is intended to capture the unique number of reports to the police or local enforcement agency from the housing project or development. These data may be challenging to capture. While most management companies will have records of domestic abuse reported on their premises, they may not track or aggregate that data. Data may also be available from the municipality, depending on the location.
Investors focused on reducing homelessness related to domestic violence may choose to track this metric, which is an imperfect indicator of the extent of domestic abuse in a particular area. Comparison to a baseline of domestic abuse in shelters and among homeless populations may also indicate performance toward the goal of reducing domestic abuse.
The types of supportive housing services linked to affordable housing developments as of the end of the reporting period.
Organizations should footnote details of the supportive services, ideally outlining key performance indicators for each.
This qualitative metric is intended to capture the scope of the services offered by the affordable housing development during the reporting period. The type of each supportive service should be collected at the end of each reporting period.
Investors interested in providing resources to support continued housing stability for survivors of violence —e.g., life skills training, mental and physical healthcare centers, alcohol and substance abuse treatment, or vocational programs—may use this metric to track the provision of those services. Supportive services in and of themselves do not indicate performance toward outcomes and impacts. However, this qualitative metric can indicate whether an investee has begun to consider the role that supportive services can play in retaining and advancing beneficiaries of their project.
Describes the type of non-financial support the organization offers to clients, if applicable.
Organizations should footnote details regarding the types of services offered and their uptake.
This metric is intended to capture any additional services related to abusive households that are connected to the project. Examples of services to footnote include support on topics such as: counseling and legal services for victims of violence, medical services for women and children, etc.
For projects that connect residents to additional support services, tracking these qualitative metrics helps to articulate the additional value the project brings to the area. Supportive services in and of themselves are not indicators of performance toward these outcomes and impacts, but these metrics can serve as indicators of whether an investee project has begun to consider the role that these supports can play in protecting and advancing beneficiaries.
The number of residential units that are hold third-party certifications as of the end of the reporting period.
Organizations should footnote the certification name, certifying body, and date since the product/service has been certified.
This metric is intended to capture third party, standards-based, assurance-based certifications. The process of certification should be carried out by a recognized body independent from interested parties. This data should be collected directly from the housing developer or management company. While these certifications are typically applied to entire developments or facilities, the unit of measure is housing units as a means of understanding the scale of the unit alongside the certification. Organizations should, if possible, tie this data to the above metrics to understand the number of individuals or families housed in units with quality certifications.
While certifications are not necessarily the best indicator of ongoing housing quality, they are easily measurable indicators that housing meets certain base requirements. Because the data is often available from the certification body, as well as the housing developer or management company, this metric can be a good metric to track in due diligence, or at a portfolio level to inform asset allocation.
Number of formerly homeless individuals housed in single- or multi-family dwellings as a result of new construction, loans, repairs, or remodeling resulting from investments made by the organization during the reporting period.
Organizations should footnote the source of their data, as well as any assumptions that went into calculating this metric.
This metric is intended to capture either a) the number of formerly homeless families provided affordable housing as a result of the investment, or b) the number of formerly homeless individuals provided affordable housing as a result of the investment. Investors should footnote whether they choose to measure at a family or an individual level. Organizations may also want to report this metric alongside the total number of individuals or families housed as a means to understand what proportion of their investee’s residents were formerly homeless. Collection of these data likely relies on a long-term relationship with the investee. A short-term debt investor may find it challenging to capture this metric.
Investors interested in working to reduce homelessness related to domestic violence may choose to capture this metric. By adding a footnote to the metric on “Number of individuals and/or families housed,” investors can track their progress in providing housing for this highly vulnerable group. This metric indicates performance toward delivering the outcomes and impacts outlined in the evidence map. If the strategy selected by the investor is reliant on converting homeless survivors of domestic violence to housed individuals, this is a key indicator of performance.
Percentage of a household’s income that is spent on rent/mortgage and utilities (including heat, water, electricity, and cooling).
Spending on Rent, Mortgage, and Utilities / Total Household Income
Organizations should footnote the source of their data, as well as any assumptions used in calculating total income and spending on rent/utilities.
Unless a management company requires their tenants to regularly report their income (not common), this metric is often based on the income recorded for the threshold requirement at the time of application for occupancy. Spending on rent/mortgage and utilities should be accessible to the management company.
Investors interested in decreasing the cost burden for end beneficiaries at risk of housing instability may want to track this metric, which indicates expenditures on rent/mortgage and utilities along with Client savings (PI1748, below). Percent of household income spent on housing can be compared to the 30% suggested baseline for spending on rent/mortgage and utilities as a share of income.
Average cost savings per client obtained by renting or purchasing an affordable unit compared to the average price that client would otherwise pay for a unit during the reporting period.
Average cost of market-rate unit per individual ? Average cost of affordable unit per individual
Organizations should footnote the source of their data, as well as any assumptions used in calculating the cost of the market rate and affordable units.
This metric relies on assumptions for the average cost per client for affordable and market-rate housing. When calculating the market-rate alternative, organizations should use an average from the surrounding area that they deem appropriate, footnoting assumptions. Cost of affordable housing per unit can most often be accessed through the management company.
Investors interested in decreasing the cost burden for end beneficiaries at risk of housing instability may want to track this metric along with Percent of household income spent on rent/mortgage and utilities during the reporting period (above), which indicates savings as a result of affordable housing.
Ratio between the number of tenants involuntarily removed from the housing unit and the total number of permanent tenants during the reporting period.
Organizations should footnote whether the individuals have exited to shelters or other supportive housing structures.
This metric is intended to capture the ratio of individuals removed from the affordable housing because of their inability to pay rent and utility costs. This data should be collected directly from the building management company.
Investors focused on more permanent, stable housing for survivors of abuse may consider using measurements of eviction, as financial constraints often continue to be a challenge for survivors of domestic violence even after obtaining housing. If the eviction rate is high in a particular development, it may indicate a need for investors and management companies to consider how they can better achieve long-term stability to avoid further eviction.
Ratio between the number of tenants departing the housing unit and the average number of permanent tenants during the reporting period.
Organizations should footnote whether the individuals have left their units to other affordable or market-rate housing, or whether their exit is unknown.
This metric is intended to capture the ratio between individuals exiting affordable housing and the total number of individuals housed in all units. These data should be collected directly from the management company or building management.
Investors focused on more permanent, stable housing for survivors may consider using turnover measurements, as financial constraints often continue to be a challenge for survivors of domestic violence even after obtaining housing. Turnover rate may give further insight as to whether resources available after housing payments are sufficient to pay for educational, employment, health, and other needs. If data on where tenants exit to is available and if tenants move to other affordable units, or ideally to market rate housing, this metric may be an indicator of successful performance.
Indicates whether the organization implements policies to protect its clients.
Organizations should footnote details on the types of policies it implements.
This data should be available at an individual investee level. If it is not directly available from the investee, it can sometimes be found through public sources. Example policies that an organization might have in place to protect its clients may include: rent collection policies, internal audits to check practices that could increase indebtedness, eviction policies, employee training practices, resident response policies, and late payment penalty processes.
This metric is intended to capture the policies the project puts in place to protect its residents from unnecessary sources of residential instability. This metric shows how successfully projects are laying policy groundwork for stable and long-term periods of residency.