• Tue. Nov 28th, 2023

    Supportive Housing: A Lifeline for Domestic Violence Survivors

    ByNuala Hafner

    Nov 20, 2023
    Supportive Housing: A Lifeline for Domestic Violence Survivors

    Children’s toys scattered across the garden of a supportive housing complex in Fairbanks, Alaska serve as a powerful reminder of the transformative effect of stable housing in the lives of survivors of domestic violence. Brynn Butler, a survivor who lost her apartment after leaving her abusive boyfriend, knows this all too well. Coping with the trauma of an unhealthy relationship, she found herself spiraling into addiction to methamphetamines.

    Butler’s journey towards healing began when she made a courageous decision to leave the abusive situation she had found herself in, despite the many challenges she faced. After finding herself in yet another abusive situation, Butler experienced a breaking point when her eye socket was broken. Determined to change her life, she sought help at the Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living in Fairbanks. Here, she was provided with transitional housing at a women’s shelter, where she spent six months stabilizing and rebuilding her life.

    The staff at the shelter witnessed a remarkable transformation in Butler, which led to an unexpected opportunity – a job offer that marked a significant turning point in her journey towards independent living. Today, Butler serves as the housing coordinator for the city of Fairbanks, working tirelessly to expand transitional services and support for the community.

    A Lifeline for Survivors

    Survivors of domestic violence often face significant challenges in securing and affording housing due to the economic instability caused by their abusers. This can result in a difficulty in finding rental properties due to poor credit, rental history, and employment records. The availability of housing support plays a vital role in empowering survivors, providing them with the space and stability needed to break free from the cycle of abuse and rebuild their lives.

    In Fairbanks, Alaska, affordable housing options are scarce, exacerbating the challenges faced by survivors of domestic violence. The Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living, the only low-barrier shelter in the area, offers emergency shelter, but it is not a long-term solution. Low-income housing, managed by shelters or non-profits, provides transitional housing opportunities, usually accompanied by shared costs between survivors and the program. This serves as a stepping stone towards independent living, often facilitated by housing vouchers, or permanent supportive housing, which offers additional security and access to a caseworker for survivors who face ongoing threats to their safety.

    Challenges in Housing Survivors

    Unfortunately, the lack of affordable housing in Fairbanks poses a significant obstacle in helping survivors of domestic violence transition to independent lives of stability and safety. Landlords in the area, preferring military families or tenants with good credit, often discriminate against survivors with eviction or criminal records, which are common consequences of domestic violence situations. Financial abuse further compounds the challenges faced by survivors, as they may lack credit history, work experience, or rental history.

    To address the difficulty of housing survivors, the Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living manages 20 units of supportive housing. These units provide a lifeline for survivors like S., who emphasize the transformative impact of stable housing in their lives. For S., the supportive housing option has literally saved her life, providing a secure, private space where she can rebuild and heal.

    Impacts Beyond Housing

    The significance of secure and stable housing extends far beyond a mere physical shelter. Housing stability positively impacts all areas of a survivor’s life, enabling them to focus on healing, forging a path towards independence, and breaking free from the cycle of abuse. However, the demand for managed housing far exceeds the current availability, emphasizing the need for increased resources and support in addressing this critical issue.

    As advocates continue their efforts to expand affordable and supportive housing options for survivors of domestic violence in Fairbanks and across Alaska, it is crucial for society as a whole to recognize the transformative power of housing stability in empowering survivors and breaking the cycle of violence. By providing survivors with safe and stable housing, communities can play a pivotal role in creating a brighter future for those who have endured abuse.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    1. How does housing stability impact survivors of domestic violence?

    Housing stability is crucial for survivors of domestic violence as it provides them with a secure environment to heal and rebuild their lives. Stable housing empowers survivors by offering them a safe space free from abuse and the opportunity to regain control over their lives.

    2. Why is affordable housing scarce for survivors of domestic violence?

    Survivors of domestic violence often face challenges in securing affordable housing due to economic sabotage by their abusers, resulting in poor credit, rental histories, and employment records. Additionally, discrimination by landlords based on eviction or criminal records further compounds the scarcity of affordable housing options.

    3. What are the different types of housing options for survivors of domestic violence?

    There are various housing options for survivors of domestic violence, including emergency shelters, transitional housing, independent living with housing vouchers, and permanent supportive housing. Each option caters to different stages of a survivor’s journey towards independence and safety.

    4. How does housing stability impact a survivor’s overall well-being?

    Housing stability positively affects all aspects of a survivor’s life. It provides a secure foundation for healing, rebuilding self-esteem, and fostering independence. Stable housing enables survivors to focus on their physical and mental well-being, gain employment, and secure a future free from abuse.