Unfortunately, limited research has examined IPV survivors’ preferences regarding housing services. Without evidence about survivors’ preferences, providers and researchers lack guidance about how best to help survivors and their families with housing. To help address this knowledge need, this qualitative study was guided by the following research questions: (1) What are the housing needs of IPV survivors? (2) What are survivors’ preferences and recommendations for addressing their housing needs?
Methods: A variety of strategies were used to recruit IPV survivors (N=19) to participate in a focus group or interview (in-person or telephone). Recruitment strategies included posting fliers around the surrounding community; having service providers share study information with their clients; emailing university students, faculty, and staff; and posting advertisements on Craigslist and a local newspaper. All discussions were audio recorded and facilitated using a semi-structured guide. Qualitative analysis consisted of an open-coding approach and strategies to enhance research rigor (e.g., multiple coders, negative case analysis, member checking, and memoing).
Results: Five themes emerged: (a) shelter concerns; (b) IPV survivor housing needs; (c) IPV housing challenges; (d) housing recommendations; and (e) recommendations for service providers. Participants identified several concerns related to DV shelters, including issues with rules, power structures, and communal living. Housing-related needs identified by participants included safety; emergency, long-term, and affordable housing; emotional, mental health, and substance use needs; knowledge of available housing resources; financial assistance and employability services; legal services; healthcare; and children-related needs. Several challenges to addressing the housing needs of survivors emerged, including limited housing options and the impact on safety, accessibility for survivors with disabilities, and housing survivors with children and pets. Participants provided numerous recommendations for addressing survivors’ housing needs, including those aimed at enhancing shelter delivery and non-shelter recommendations. Participants also discussed recommendations for service providers working with survivors to address their housing needs, including the importance of using a survivor-centered approach and having appropriate knowledge and skills.
Conclusions/Implications: This qualitative study highlights the varied housing-related needs of IPV survivors. Services targeting survivors’ experiences of homelessness and housing insecurity must also address corollary needs such as healthcare, mental health, and legal assistance. In addition, survivors discussed numerous and sometimes discrepant recommendations for addressing their housing needs. Therefore, it is critical providers use a survivor-centered as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach when working with survivors to address their unique housing needs.