In the United States, domestic violence shelters serve a variety of purposes: to provide temporary housing for women fleeing an abusive relationship; to provide safety and support for children who have been affected by parental abuse; and to offer a place to receive legal assistance and medical care. In addition, these places offer counseling, support groups and other services to assist survivors in developing a safety plan, finding permanent housing, and obtaining resources and referrals.
Shelters can help survivors by: Providing safe, affordable and secure shelter for up to 120 days (usually longer)
A study of domestic violence shelters found that the average length of stay was about 28 days; some shelters may allow up to one year. The longer a survivor stays in a shelter, the more time she has to collect resources and build trust with staff.
Survivors who do not need to be in a shelter can also benefit from rapid rehousing and other strategies that help them move to safer, more affordable permanent housing. This model combines the safety and security of shelter with the convenience of rapid transitions to permanent housing, often with rental subsidy or other financial aid.
Many HRA domestic violence shelters are staffed by housing specialists, who work to identify landlords who are willing to rent to survivors who have been in the shelter system for some time, and to locate available apartments that meet their needs. This service can save survivors a significant amount of money by not having to go to shelter, and it can give them the opportunity to build their savings account or find a job.