Sarah* grew up in an upper, middle-class family. She achieved a Master’s degree in health and human services administration. She became homeless when she was evicted from the apartment she shared with her abuser after he was arrested by the police.
Although traumatized by violence, she was unable to go to a domestic violence shelter because her abuser was no longer an immediate threat. She’s currently finding stability and support in Our Saviour’s Transitional Housing Program as she searches for more permanent housing.
The causes of homelessness are manifold, so the solutions must be too. That’s why, in 1991, Our Saviour’s Housing grew to provide transitional housing in addition to emergency shelter. Then, in 2009, we expanded again to add permanent supportive housing. Now, we enter another period of transition as we continue to adapt to meet the changing needs of the community.
National and local data on homelessness, as well as information collected from our own program participants, allow us to stay current on what needs to be done to end homelessness. Through this data, the national and local homeless service provider communities have identified youth and survivors of domestic violence among the most vulnerable.
As such, change is coming to OSH’s transitional housing program. Transitional housing is an up to two-year program in which residents receive stable housing and support to pursue education, employment, health, and other goals that will ultimately allow them to remain housed on their own. Currently, we have one transitional house for single men and one for single women. Throughout the rest of 2017, we will begin to shift our transitional housing program to women only, prioritizing women who have experienced domestic violence. This process will happen gradually, so that the 10 residents currently in our men’s house can successfully transition to permanent independent living.
In many ways, this shift is a natural one. According to the Wilder Foundation’s most recent study of homelessness in Minnesota, nearly one in three homeless women are homeless as a result of domestic abuse. In our transitional housing program, for more than 20 years, at least half of our female residents have reported experiences with domestic violence. These numbers show that OSH has already been doing this work for more than two decades. Now we will simply do so in a more intentional and focused way, including investments in staff training around domestic violence and building security improvements.
The need for home, safety, and security is universal – and especially difficult for survivors of domestic violence to obtain. From connecting to community resources and developing a safety plan to stabilizing income and rebuilding a sense of worth and power, we look forward to providing a pathway for women to heal.