The COVID-19 pandemic has made our already planned priorities around homelessness and prevention even more urgent. Sheltering in place is needed to stop the spread of COVID-19—but home isn’t a safe place for everyone. Housing for domestic violence survivors was an already urgent issue, and has become even more so in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Current resources simply do not meet the need, and we see survivors waiting for the relief of a safe roof over their heads.
Sheltering at home shouldn’t lead to more violence—but survivors and their children are currently exposed to abusive behaviors with fewer opportunities to seek help. If healthy relationship and consent skills are built into the fabric of Californians’ lives, we could avoid the devastating outcomes we›re currently seeing. This doesn’t have to be a part of our reality. When we invest in prevention, we ensure that all generations—especially youth—have the tools to break the cycle of intergenerational violence.
How Do We Determine Our Policy Priorities? Partnership’s Policy Advisory Council is a diverse group that helps develop our proactive policy agenda and our responses to additional legislative proposals, considering the interests of a full spectrum of survivors, advocates and communities. Through an annual policy survey and monthly regional and statewide calls, our coalition’s Members inform our coalition’s policy work. Our work includes both legislative solutions and systems change efforts to strengthen prevention and intervention responses to domestic violence.
Take Action: We have been instrumental in the passage, enactment, implementation and enforcement of strong, comprehensive legislation and public policies that address a range of domestic violence issues. Flex your policy advocacy muscles with the opportunities below!
$15 Million in Ongoing State Funding to Prevent Sexual and Domestic Violence
Sexual and domestic violence are not inevitable—but without an ongoing state investment in prevention, high rates of tragedy and trauma will persist: an estimated 3.3 million California women and men experience intimate partner violence each year. Nation-wide, 54% of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming people reported physical or coercive violence from a partner in 2015.
Our state must prioritize prevention to create a different reality, with a culture of consent and healthy relationships. That’s why we’re asking Governor Newsom and the legislature to invest $15 million in ongoing funding to prevent sexual and domestic violence.
We know what works to end intergenerational cycles of violence for future generations—it’s grassroots approaches like the research-backed Coaching Boys into Men program, which engages coaches as role models to encourage healthy masculinity. This fits into a range of opportunities to deepen local prevention work: promoting safe and healthy relationship skills much earlier in life, improving school climate and safety, engaging boys and men in gender equity, and promoting racial justice with culturally-responsive solutions.
Budget Advocacy to Prevent and Address Survivor Homelessness
Survivors deserve safe, stable housing.
Too often, survivors must make an untenable choice between becoming homeless or remaining in or returning to a violent environment—and with soaring rents across California, their options are limited. Fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence is a core component of our federal definition of homelessness. However, survivors are often overlooked as a portion of our homeless population, despite the fact that domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness. Our state’s homelessness budget must reach domestic violence providers, so they can meet the critical demand for housing.
In 2020, we’re calling for a portion of the statewide homelessness budget to specifically address survivors’ housing needs through funds allocated to cities, counties and continuums of care. We are also seeking $30 million in directed funding from the overall homelessness budget to support three grant programs addressing the full range of survivors’ housing needs: Domestic Violence Assistance Program, Transitional Housing, and Domestic Violence Housing First advocacy.
Current resources simply do not meet the need. On September 12, 2019, 96 domestic violence programs in California participated in the National Census of Domestic Violence Services. During this 24-hour survey period, 3,307 survivors and their children were provided emergency and transitional housing by domestic violence programs. On that same day however, 630 requests for housing went unmet due to lack of resources and availability.
In spite of these barriers, strategies like Domestic Violence Housing First have been found to be highly effective. Under this program, advocates follow survivors’ guidance to provide customized support, flexible funding, and mobile advocacy—all in service of increased options for safe, stable housing as quickly as possible. In a 2019 report of 19 of the initial organizations implementing the program in California, 90% of surveyed survivors reported their advocate helped them reach their housing goals and 58% of survivors used funds to prevent homelessness.
The State of California cannot end homelessness without addressing survivors’ housing needs. Stay tuned for ways you can urge the Governor and legislature to make this critical investment!
Across California, domestic violence service providers support survivors, their families, and their communities every day in finding safety and healing. This support includes 24/7 emergency response to crisis calls, emergency shelter needs, and law enforcement and medical responses to long-term housing stability, counseling, and prevention work to stop violence before it ever occurs; these organizations are a core component of our social safety net. This is true every day, and even more so as we grapple with the impact of COVID-19 on our communities.
Ongoing Priority: Increase Federal Support for Domestic Violence Victims
Together with other coalitions and national organizations, the Partnership analyzes federal funding proposals and advocates to ensure they address the needs of programs serving domestic violence victims. To respond to the needs of survivors at the federal level, the Partnership has been a collaborating with our colleagues at the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Our Policy Team has added our voice to CARES Act advocacy, and contributed to a subsequent sign-on letter to U.S. House and Senate leadership.
The decisions made in Sacramento and Washington DC directly impact domestic violence survivors and programs. Our ability to advance public policies relies upon private donations and membership dues. If you care about domestic violence and want to make an impact, here’s how you can help ensure our voices are heard by state and federal legislators:
Become a Member
When you join our Coalition, you gain access to our policy advocacy community! No matter where you’re starting—as a new member who has yet to visit the Capitol, or a seasoned advocate who has attended lots of legislative meetings—we’re here to present learning opportunities, provide calls to action, and hear your input to ensure that our policy work reflects a responsive, integrated approach combining services and social change.
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Stay updated on our latest policy accomplishments, and receive calls-to-action for supporting key legislation.
Tools & Resources
The following tools and resources will help you effectively engage in policy efforts.
Find additional policy information and Partnership publications in our resource library.
 Victim estimates: Smith, S., Chen, J., Basile, K., Gilbert, L., Merrick, M., Patel, N., et al. (2017, September 25, 2017). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010-2012 State Report. Retrieved October 2018 from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs/summaryreports.html. Lifetime cost per victim estimates: Peterson, C., Kearns, M. C., McIntosh, W.L., Estefan, L. F., Nicolaidis, C., McCollister, K. E., et al. (2018). Lifetime Economic Burden of Intimate Partner Violence Among U.S. Adults. Am J Prev Med, 55(4), 433-444.