Community engagement refers to advocates working in the community to build lasting connections with the goal of engaging community members in supporting survivors’ safety, independence, and housing stability.
The more that someone is connected to their community, the more they are able to thrive. Advocates can support survivors in finding, creating, and reconnecting to resources on different levels that will make this stronger.
It is not always possible for domestic violence programs to have all the resources survivors need to become stable. Therefore, it is important that organizations make intentional efforts to establish and maintain relationships with other community resources.
Domestic Violence Housing First (DVHF) requires that advocates have access and knowledge of other community resources. Advocates need to be supported in carving out time to reach out to community partners and build relationships.
Think about your staffing patterns and what may need to change to include housing search and support for survivors:
- Will advocates offer housing search and support? Can this be mobile advocacy?
- Will you consider hiring or working with a housing navigator?
- Will you collaborate with other organizations that have staff who provide housing search?
- What do conversations around community support sound like? Can this look different depending on the level of structure that the survivor is needing?
- How are resources currently created, maintained, and tracked?
Discuss your community to get an idea of what resources already exist for survivors:
- Find out who is already providing housing/homeless services in your community so you can begin to collaborate.
- Is there a landlord association in your area?
- Think about resources in the community such as grocery stores, clinics, libraries, animal care, community centers, and parks. If folks are new to the area these will be important
- Are there services that people ask for and don’t have access to?
- How accessible are these services and resources? Are there online communities/forums/classes that people could use?
We have found that to eliminate housing as a reason for survivors to stay in an abusive relationship, they need multiple options. This requires that advocates have access to a spectrum of housing options that meet a survivor’s unique needs.
Housing options include:
- Homelessness prevention (staying in their current homes)
- Rapid re-housing
- Subsidized housing
- Permanent supportive housing
- Use this spreadsheet as a living document to track resources
- This Participatory Asset Mapping toolkit is borrowed from the Advancement Project- Healthy City Community Research Lab. This process can be used in any size of community and can be helpful and creating a full picture of what is available as well as what may need to be further developed
- Wikimapia.org is an easily editable map where you can add local resources and see those that other people have added
Housing/homeless providers: Relationships with Housing/Homeless providers is key to creating more housing options for survivors of domestic violence.
- Use this training template to talk with your local housing/homeless providers on how they can support survivors of domestic violence.
- Locate housing and homelessness resources – HUD Resource Locator
- Tips and tools for landlord outreach and education
- Housing rights for survivors in public and private housing
- Look for, or help develop, your own county Landlord Liaison Program
Tools to Use With Survivors
Eco-mapping is a tool that can be used to visually track relationships and supports. Whether using a traditional format or otherwise, it can be helpful for survivors to consider what their network currently looks like and what they would like for it to look like going forward. Can interests, hobbies, and passions be included as well?