Sexual Violence & Housing Resource Collection | National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) Skip to main content
Get Help Escape

Sexual Violence & Housing Resource Collection

Housing Resource Collection

Cutout of a house on a desk

Many survivors of sexual assault, abuse, and harassment have housing needs. For some survivors, home may not be a safe place and they may need to leave due to sexual violence happening in their home being perpetrated by household members, landlords, or neighbors. For others, they may need to find safe alternative housing to heal from and lessen the effects of trauma they have experienced, especially if the sexual assault occurred in their home, or if the person who perpetrated the sexual assault knows where they live. Survivors need safe housing options to stay safe from and heal from sexual assault (National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, n.d.). Additionally, many people experiencing homelessness have experienced sexual assault prior to becoming homeless (Slesnick et al., 2018).

Experiencing homelessness is also a risk factor for experiencing sexual assault (Breiding et al., 2017; Meinbresse et al., 2014). While safe, affordable, and stable housing can be a protective factor against experiencing sexual victimization (Hoedemaker, 2010). 

Check out the resources below to learn more about the connections between sexual assault, abuse, and harassment, homelessness, and housing needs. Advocates and housing and homeless service providers can use these resources to better serve sexual assault survivors by addressing housing needs they may have. Many of the resources are available online. Additional resources on the connections between violence and housing can be found at www.safehousingpartnerships.org.

About the Consortium

The Domestic Violence and Housing Technical Assistance Consortium is funded by a partnership between the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Consortium supports a technical assistance team of five national organizations: Collaborative Solutions, Inc., National Alliance for Safe Housing, National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, and National Sexual Violence Resource Center. The Consortium provides training, technical assistance, and resource development at the critical intersection of homelessness and domestic violence and sexual assault.

General Information

The following resources provide general information on the connections between sexual violence and housing.

  • Housing, Homelessness, and Sexual Violence: Annotated Bibliography (2020, PDF, 16 pages) This annotated bibliography by NSVRC highlights research articles between 2010 – 2020 on the relationship between sexual violence, housing, and homelessness. Current research suggests that people who have experienced homelessness are at an increased risk for experiencing sexual violence, and that sexual violence is a risk factor for homelessness and housing instability.
  • What Are the Links Between Sexual Violence and Housing? (2020, Webpage) This infographic series by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) highlights statistics on the connections between sexual violence, housing and homelessness. 
  • Sexual Violence in Housing during COVID-19 (2020, Webinar recording, 1 hour) This webinar focuses on the link between sexual violence and housing, how housing insecurity and homelessness impact survivors of sexual violence, the impact of COVID-19 on survivors and what survivors need regarding housing.
  • Housing Rights for Survivors of Sexual Violence (2020, Podcast) In this episode of PA Centered, Staff Attorneys from PCAR’s Sexual Violence Legal Assistance Project (SVLAP) discuss housing rights and the impact of discrimination on survivors of sexual violence.
  • Sexual Violence & Housing Resource List (2020, PDF, 2 pages) This brief resource list by NSVRC pulls select resources from this webpage.  Advocates and others can use this brief resource list in trainings and as a resource to provide information on the connections between housing and sexual violence.
  • Housing and Sexual Violence Information Packet (2012, PDF, multiple resources) NSVRC used information gathered from a 2008 national survey on housing and sexual violence to develop this packet. It includes a report, an overview of the topic, a fact sheet, and a technical assistance bulletin to support the advocacy of housing needs survivors may face.
  • In Focus: Sexual Violence Economic Security for Survivors Project (2015, PDF, 5 pages) This resource by Wider Opportunities for Women addresses the impact of trauma of sexual violence on economic security. 

Advocacy Tools for Sexual Assault Programs

Many survivors of sexual violence have shelter and housing needs. The following resources are for sexual assault programs that may not be familiar with housing services to increase their capacity in providing housing services to survivors of sexual violence.

  • Advocates’ Guide to Housing and Community Development Policy (Webpage) Every year the National Low Income Housing Coalition publishes this guide to educate advocates about the programs and policies that help make housing affordable. This resource provides an overview of housing programs and advocacy tools needed to help people find affordable housing. There is a section specifically for advocates working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.
  • Community-Based Advocates Toolkit: How to Make Sure Your Clients Have Safe Housing (2019, PDF, 52 pages) This toolkit by Larisa Kofman, from the National Alliance for Safe Housing, and Karlo Ng, from the National Housing Law Project, is a resource guide for providers helping domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence survivors address their housing needs. 
  • Creating Spaces of Healing: Exploring Housing Advocacy (2018, PDF, 6 pages). This resource by the Resource Sharing Project outlines the advocate’s role in housing advocacy, community partnerships, and assisting survivor’s to find new housing.
  • Strong Foundation for Healing: Shelter and Sexual Violence (2011, PDF, 17 pages). This resource by Kris Bein and Christi Hurt of the Resource Sharing Project discusses the shelter and housing needs of survivors of sexual violence may have and the critical role advocates play in helping survivors navigate housing options and regaining a sense of safety. This publication is also available in Spanish.
  • Meeting the Needs of Sexual Violence Survivors in Shelter (2017, Webinar recording, 1.5 hours). This recorded webinar by the Resource Sharing Project discusses the shelter and housing needs of sexual violence survivors.
  • Serving Survivors of Sexual Violence in Transitional Housing (2018, Bilingual English and Spanish webinar recording, 1.5 hours). This webinar was produced by the Sexual Violence Survivors’ Transitional Housing Access Initiative, a project of the National Sexual Assault Coalitions Resource Sharing Project. It focuses on increasing OVW Transitional Housing grantees’ abilities to recognize sexual violence, oppressions, trauma, SV forms, SV outside of intimate partnerships, housing needs of SV survivors, and challenges to TH access for SV survivors; and to respond in more trauma-informed ways. 
  • Strong Foundation for Healing: Shelter and Sexual Violence (2011, PDF, 17 pages) This resource by Kris Bein and Christi Hurt from the Resource Sharing Project explains how housing is a sexual violence issue.  It also discusses the many ways sexual assault survivors may present with housing needs and includes tips for providing housing services to survivors of sexual violence. 
  • The Advocacy Station: Housing and Collaboration (2010, PDF, 10 pages) This resource by the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs (WCSAP) is to help advocates provide housing advocacy and support to the survivors they work with.  It describes sexual assault survivors’ complex housing needs, provides questions to consider to enhance housing advocacy, and tips on partnering with local housing advocates and providers.
  • Transitional Housing for Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence: A 2014-15 Snapshot (Webpage) This report developed by American Institutes for Research’s National Center on Family Homelessness includes a twelve chapter report, five recorded webinars, four podcasts with transcripts, and two topical snapshots of provider approaches. This resource focuses on the needs and approaches to meet the needs of survivors of sexual violence. Chapter 8 specifically focuses on the needs and approaches to meet the needs of survivors of sexual violence. 
  • Transitional Housing Toolkit (2019, Online resource) This online toolkit by the National Network to End Domestic Violence is for transitional housing providers. It offers information and resources to enhance services to survivors, including a section on serving sexual assault survivors.
  • Working with Public Housing Agencies to Improve Survivors’ Access to Housing (2018, PDF, 64 pages) This toolkit from the National Housing Law Project outlines steps advocates can take to improve local public housing policies that affect survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
  • Coordinate Entry (CE) Process: Frequently Asked Questions (2017, PDF, 12 pages). This resource from the Domestic Violence and Housing Technical Assistance Consortium is for domestic violence and sexual assault victim service providers.  It provides answers to common questions drawing from regulations and other guidance from HUD and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and provides strategies and resources for service providers who want to create and implement the coordinated entry process in their community.
  • Coordinated Entry and Intake/Assessment Tools (Webpage) Safe Housing Partnerships has a resource list of a variety of resources and tools available on Coordinated Entry and intake/assessment tools.
  • Assessing for & Appropriately Responding to the Housing Needs of Domestic & Sexual Violence Survivors: A Decision Tree as an Alternative to a Scoresheet (2020, PDF, 9 pages). This resource by Cris Sullivan, Ph.D., and Gabriela López-Zerón, Ph.D present an alternative tool for assessing the housing needs of domestic and sexual assault survivors.
  • HUD Exchange (Website) – provides information and resources on the Continuum of Care Program (CoC) from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Public Policy

Resources for Dual Domestic and Sexual Violence Programs

Survivors of sexual assault also have housing needs and it is important to expand housing programs to assist sexual assault survivors with shelter and housing. 

Examples (National Network to End Domestic Violence [NNEDV], 2019, p. 3):   

  • An 18 year old is being sexually abused by an uncle that lives in his home with his family. He has a job but does not make enough money to support himself. After staying with different friends, he finds himself homeless and eventually exchanging sex for housing.
  • A woman works at a local grocery store and makes slightly over minimum wage. She is living in rent-controlled housing. Without rent control she would not be able to afford housing. One night her landlord enters her apartment and coerces her by threatening to evict her if she does not have sex with him. She does, and he continues to threaten eviction and sexually assault her. 
  • After continually being sexually assaulted by her husband, a survivor left her home with her children to stay with a family member. She works but cannot afford a security deposit or first month’s rent.   She also needs an additional month’s rent to get back on her feet. She needs to leave her family’s home immediately because her husband has been threatening her and her children.
  • A survivor of human trafficking is arrested. Upon release, she decides she does not want to return to her trafficker and looks for housing options. She does not identify as a domestic violence survivor because her trafficker is her “pimp” and not her boyfriend. He never physically abused her but used drugs to force her into staying with him and to coerce her into sex. While looking for housing, the survivor started sleeping at her sister’s house, where her trafficker began coming around to harass her. She desperately wants to stay clean and does not want to return to the person who is trafficking her.

The following resources are for dual domestic and sexual violence programs to help increase their capacity in serving the unique housing needs of sexual assault survivors.

Serving sexual assault survivors
  • Sexual Assault Demonstration Initiative (Webpage) The Sexual Assault Demonstration Initiative (SADI), was the first large scale project of its kind to enhance sexual assault outreach, services, and community partnerships in dual and multi-service programs. This website includes materials and resources that were developed based on the lessons learned from this project.
  • It Matters! How Defining Sexual Violence Defines Advocacy Programs (2019, PDF, 6 pages) This resource from SADI explores how by widening our view of sexual violence, we can open our doors to a wider diversity of survivors.
  • Comprehensive Services for Survivors of Sexual Violence (2019, PDF, 28 pages) This guide from SADI explores how dual and multi-service programs can provide comprehensive services that address the entire scope of survivor’s experiences – going beyond the immediate crisis to support a wide range of both immediate and long-term issues. This resource is also available in Spanish.
  • Foundations of Advocacy Training Manual (Webpage) This resource from SADI offers tools to equip new advocates with core knowledge and skills for supporting survivors of sexual violence.  It is also available for download as a PDF
  • Trauma-Informed Care (2019, PDF, 1 page) This handout from SADI provides a brief overview and framework for understanding the impact of trauma on survivors, communities, and those who serve them.
  • Listening to Survivors – Essential Steps for the Intake Process (2019, PDF, 3 pages) This tool from SADI assist dual/multi-service programs with restructuring their intake forms and procedures to align with approaches that are more survivor-focused and trauma-informed.
  • Listening to Our Communities: Assessment Toolkit (Webpage) This toolkit from SADI focuses on key tools and skills for conducting community assessments to strengthen services for sexual assault survivors.
  • Building Cultures of Care: A Guide for Sexual Assault Services Programs (2017, PDF, 56 pages) This guide from SADI provides information to support sexual assault services through the use of a trauma-informed approach. This resource is also available in Spanish.
  • Elevate | Uplift (Website) Elevate | Uplift is a collective of national organizations leading anti-sexual violence work.  It is built on the foundation of lessons learned from SADI to engage with organizations to expand their understanding of healing, think critically about how they do their work and make changes to provide comprehensive and sustainable support for survivors. 
Housing resources

People Experiencing Homelessness

The following resources provide information on the connections between sexual violence experienced by people experiencing homelessness.

  • Hard lives, mean streets: Violence in the lives of homeless women Northeastern University Press (2010, Book, 256 pages). This book by Jana Jasinski, Jennifer Wesely, James Wright, and Elizabeth Mustaine presents the findings on the Florida Four-City Study.  This study looked at the actual experiences of violence, past and current, of 737 women who are homeless. The authors investigate through quantitative and in-depth interviews how many homeless women experienced violence. The authors examined factors associated with experiences of violence, the consequences of violence, and interactions women who are homeless have had with the criminal justice system. The book concludes with policy recommendations.
  • No Safe Place: Sexual Assault in the Lives of Homeless Women (2006, PDF, 13 pages) This VAWnet applied research paper by Lisa Goodman, Katya Fels, Catherine Glenn, and Judy Benitez highlights research on the experiences of sexual assault on women experiencing homelessness, including risk factors for sexual assault, barriers to services, and suggestions for rape crisis advocates and housing service providers on how to better meet the needs of survivors who are homeless.
  • Sexual Violence and Homelessness (2006, PDF, 2 pages) This Technical Assistance Bulletin by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) provides information on the link between homelessness and sexual violence, the barriers people who are homeless face in receiving services, and tips for how rape crisis centers can meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness. 
  • What Causes Homelessness? (Webpage) This webpage by the National Alliance to End Homelessness highlights the factors that can contribute to someone experiencing homelessness. 

Youth Experiencing Homelessness

The following resources provide information on the connections between youth experiencing homelessness and sexual violence.

  • College-Aged but On the Streets: Young Adults Who Experience Homelessness and Sexual Violence (2017, PDF, 15 pages) This resource by Elizabeth Edmondson Bauer, Kris Bein, and Cat Fribley of the Resource Sharing Project looks at the needs of sexual assault survivors aged 18-24 who do not attend college.  Young women in this age group not enrolled in college are 1.2 times more likely to experience rape or sexual assault as compared to young women who are enrolled in college. The resource provides advocacy strategies on working with homeless youth who have experienced sexual violence.
  • Experiences of Youth in the Sex Trade in Chicago: Issues in Youth Poverty and Homelessness (2016, PDF, 56 pages) This report by Laurie Schaffner, Grant Buhr, Deana Lewis, Marco Roc, and Haley Volpintesta compiles the findings from a study of interviews with 202 youth aged 13-24 involved in the sex trade in Chicago.The report highlights youth’s experiences on how they make and spend money, customers, pimps, health and other needs, experiences with police, and their perceptions and expectations. The report discusses the differences between youth who are trafficked, sexual exploitation of children and youth involved in the sex trade. It concludes with recommendations on serving youth involved in the sex trade. 
  • Homeless Youth & Sexual Violence: Infographic (2019, PDF, 2 pages) This infographic by NSVRC provides statistics on young people who are homeless and who have experienced sexual assault.  
  • Linking the Roads: Working with Youth Who Experience Homelessness & Sexual Violence (2014, PDF, 36 pages) This guide by Taylor Teichman , National Sexual Violence Resce Centerm (NSVRC), is for advocates working with youth experiencing homelessness and sexual violence and how to adapt advocacy skills to help promote youth’s resilience and lessen the impact of trauma.
  • Seeking Shelter: The Experiences and Unmet Needs of LGBT Homeless Youth (2013, PDF, 44 pages) This report by Andrew Cray, Katie Miller, and Laura Durso at the Center for American Progress explores LGBT homeless youth, how they became homeless, their needs, and how they are being addressed. 
  • Street kids: The lives of runaway and thrownaway teens (2018, 2nd ed., Book, 434 pages) This book by R. Barri Flowers examines the pathway to homelessness for runaway and thrownaway youth, including child abuse, neglect, and child sexual abuse. The book then explores the consequences of youth homelessness, such as engaging in survival sex, experiencing commercial sexual exploitation, contracting sexually transmitted diseases, and facing other forms of violence. Finally, the book considers how to respond to youth running away, and how to prevent victimization of homeless youth.
  • Youth homelessness and survival sex: Intimate relationships and gendered subjectivities Routledge (2018, Book, 173 pages) This book by Juliet Watson analyzes personal narratives of female homeless youth engaging in survival sex. The author examines survival sex, intimate relationships, and applies a gendered lens to young women’s experiences of homelessness and survival sex. 

Resources for Housing and Homeless Service Providers

As a housing service provider, you come in contact with individuals who have experienced trauma, including sexual assault. By understanding the impact on trauma on the lives of the people you serve you will be better able to provide the resources and support they need.

Impacts of sexual assault
  • The Brain, Body, and Trauma (2012 Elearning course) This 1.5 hour online course by Kelly Wilt & Janine D’Anniballe for the NSVRC provides an overview of the neurobiological and psychological implications for sexually violent trauma and the information and skills necessary for victim service providers to provide trauma-informed services.
  • SART Toolkit: Understanding the Effects and Costs of Sexual Assault (Webpage) This section of the SART Toolkit by NSVRC provides an overview on the effects and costs of sexual assault including typical reactions to trauma, the brain-based responses to trauma, and coping strategies. 
Trauma informed services
Housing Services for Sexual Assault Survivors
Culturally Specific Communities

References

Breiding, M., Basile, K. C., Klevens, J., & Smith, S. G. (2017). Economic insecurity and intimate partner and sexual violence victimization. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 53(4), 457–464. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2017.03.021    

Hoedemaker, S. (2010). Opening the door: An advocate’s guide to housing and sexual violence. National Sexual Violence Resource Center. https://www.nsvrc.org/publications/opening-door-advocates-guide-housing-and-sexual-violence

Meinbresse, M., Brinkley-Rubinstein, L., Grassette, A., Benson, J., Hall, C., Hamilton, R., Malott, M., & Jenkins, D. (2014). Exploring the experiences of violence among individuals who are homeless using a consumer-led approach. Violence and Victims, 29(1), 122–136. https://doi.org/10.1891/0886-6708.VV-D-12-00069 

National Alliance to End Sexual Violence. (n.d.). Housing protections for victims (Webpage). National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.  https://endsexualviolence.org/where_we_stand/housing-protections-for-victims/ 

National Network to End Domestic Violence. (2020) Creating access for survivors: Category 4 HEARTH homeless designation: Fleeing, or attempting to flee, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking. National Network to End Domestic Violence. https://nnedv.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Library_Policy_HEARTH_Creating_Access_for_Survivors.pdf 

Slesnick, N., Zhang, J., & Yilmazer, T. (2018). Employment and other income sources among homeless youth. Journal of Primary Prevention, 39(3), 247–262. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10935-018-0511-1