Innovative housing solutions for Latin@ survivors of violence, a report

This report outlines the unique challenges that Latin@ survivors face when looking for housing, strategies on how to address this need, and recommendations for service providers.

In 2015, the Latin@ population in the United States reached 57 million, with almost half (47%) living in suburban and rural areas. Latin@s are not a monolithic group. Approximately 65% of Latin@s are born in the U.S., whereas 35% are foreign-born, having immigrated to the United States. This community encompasses a wide variety of experiences that affect gaining access to safe, affordable and stable housing. Issues such as immigration status (including mixed status families), English language proficiency, and family size and composition can affect the ability of many Latina survivors and their families to access and benefit from the housing in their communities.

For many survivors of domestic violence, access to safe, affordable and stable housing constitutes one of the most important resources to live free from violence. Yes, housing remains a scant resource, and despite the federal and state governments’ efforts to provide a variety of housing programs, domestic violence survivors still face major difficulties in accessing and obtaining support from these housing programs. In the case of Latina immigrant survivors, many find themselves dealing with a system that is new to them and difficult to navigate. In addition, their experience of domestic violence creates an additional layer of complication when seeking housing; barriers such as the social stigma of domestic violence, misunderstandings of protective laws, and the need for safety.

In an effort to gather information, and identify promising practices and successful advocacy strategies that serve Latin@ survivors, the National Latin@ Network research team conducted a series of listening sessions across the country with community-based advocates who work with Latin@ immigrant survivors. The purpose of this project was threefold: 1) to expand the understanding of housing needs and barriers that Latin@ survivors of domestic violence and their families face; 2) to better understand strategies that survivors and domestic violence advocates take to address the housing needs of survivors; and 3) to generate recommendations that inform future policies and community-based practice. This report is intended to support the work of advocates by expanding the knowledge and tools for advocates, survivors and policy makers who work to guarantee access to housing for Latin@ survivors of domestic violence and their families, especially immigrant survivors.