Feb 5, 2020 - Health

Domestic violence pushes many women to homelessness

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

On any given night, 1 in 4 of the nation's more than 216,000 homeless women are driven to the streets because of domestic violence, according to the National Center on Family Homelessness.

Why it matters: There is a growing national effort to address homelessness, but access to services that deal with both issues is complicated. Domestic violence is often addressed separately, even though the two struggles are frequently intertwined, the NCFH writes.

By the numbers:

  • 38% of domestic violence victims become homeless at some point in their lives, according to the Family and Youth Services Bureau.
  • Between 23% and 30% of women overall experience domestic violence, but more than 60% of homeless women experience domestic violence.
  • 70% of homeless women reported being physically assaulted by a family member or someone they knew, and half had been sexually assaulted, per the Family and Youth Services Bureau.

The big picture: Domestic violence and homelessness are also intertwined with mental health.

  • Homeless mothers suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at three times the rate of other women, the NCFH found.
  • Homeless women are also more likely to become depressed as a result of being homeless, which can lead to substance abuse.

The state of play: Domestic violence is common among all socioeconomic levels, but most prominently affects poor women, per the NCFH.

  • Securing affordable and safe housing is difficult for domestic violence victims, because of their "urgent circumstances, poor credit, rental and employment histories, and limited income," the NCFH writes. The inability to collect and/or enforce child support and alimony payments is key to their income.
“The average homeless person is dealing with multiple issues — mental health issues compounded by chronic conditions and diseases. And it’s often impossible to get into housing when you have such chronic issues.”
— D. Michael Durham, technical assistant manager for the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, told the University of Southern California's nursing department

If you or someone you know may be struggling with domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

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Homelessness isn't just a big city problem

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Homelessness is on the rise in many of America's biggest and most expensive cities — but it's a growing problem in rural areas, too.

Why it matters: People experiencing homelessness are often harder to count in rural areas and they have a harder time accessing support programs in small towns with fewer resources.

The State of the American City: San Francisco

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín on stage with Axios Co-founder Mike Allen. Photo: Chris Constantine for Axios

On Wednesday morning in San Francisco, Axios Co-founder Mike Allen hosted a series of one-on-one conversations to discuss the future of affordable housing in the Bay Area.

Sen. Scott Wiener, California State Senate

Sen. Scott Wiener focused on the critical need for housing development in the Bay Area, particularly around public transit, and highlighted how affordable housing can work in tandem with climate goals.

  • On the contentiousness of housing politics: "Housing politics, unfortunately, are a little bit like climate and gun safety politics. The people get it. This is not an issue of popular sentiment...But like gun safety and climate, it has not trickled up to elected officials in the way that it needs to. "
  • On focusing development around public transportation: "We don't want to build sprawl and destroy farmland and force people into two-hour commutes to increase carbon emissions and clog the freeways...So it's very, very important from a climate perspective and a housing perspective."
Alice Carr, Head of Community Development Banking, JPMorgan Chase

Head of Community Development Banking at JPMorgan Chase, Alice Carr, discussed the role of the public and private sector in housing development in her View from the Top segment.

  • On the public and private sectors working together to address this challenge: "Low-income housing tax credits are the primary driver for building new affordable units throughout the country. And that's policy-driven. That's a federal commitment to affordable housing."
  • On finding multi-pronged solutions to deeply entrenched problems: "We know that housing tax credits are not going to solve a national affordable housing crisis [alone]. We are behind as a country in providing the number of units we need throughout the country, not just affordable and subsidized housing. So we really need to focus on ways of increasing housing production across the spectrum."
Catherine Bracy, Co-founder and Executive Director, TechEquity Collaborative

Co-founder and Executive Director at TechEquity Collaborative, Catherine Bracy, highlighted the importance of tech workers and employers showing up in conversations around affordable housing and engaging more deeply in the community.

  • On growing a tech economy: "I think growth should lift all boats and that we need to focus on policy solutions that are going to make it possible for a growing tech economy to create opportunity for everybody who lives here, whether they work in the tech industry or not."
  • On tech workers throwing their support behind equitable housing initiatives: "I think most tech workers agree with [increasing affordable housing]."
Mayor Jesse Arreguín, Berkeley, California

Mayor Jesse Arreguín discussed the importance of preventive policies around homelessness, concentrating housing close to where jobs are located, and making sure that housing is more equitably distributed throughout the region.

  • On the need for affordable housing: "[Homelessness] is one of the most visible challenges that we are experiencing, not only in Berkeley but throughout the state of California...I think it really is a symptom of how broken our economic system is that we have people that are finding themselves without housing. We need to build more affordable housing and make sure people stay housed."
  • On making sustainable development plans for the future: "We need to look at how we are going to grow as a region expecting 2.4 million more people to come to the San Francisco Bay region. Where are they going to live? How are they going to commute to work and to home? And that means building housing in areas where there's been active resistance to building housing."

Thank you JPMorgan Chase for sponsoring this event.

Egg freezing frees women from their biological clocks but isn't foolproof

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A lucrative industry for egg freezing has sprouted in the past 10 years, allowing women to postpone pregnancy. Experts say easy access to the procedure isn't translating into more women using the eggs they put on ice.

The big picture: Nearly 90% of women said they were happy they froze their eggs, regardless of whether they will ultimately get used, according to FertilityIQ, an educational and reviewing site for fertility clinics.

Go deeperArrowFeb 17, 2020 - Health