Session: Housing and Economic Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Domestic Violence Survivors in Texas (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

68 Housing and Economic Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Domestic Violence Survivors in Texas

Friday, January 14, 2022: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Marquis BR Salon 9, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
Cluster: Violence against Women and Children
Abeer Monem, HCDVCC, Barbie Brashear, MSW, HCDVCC, Elizabeth Torres, MPH, University of Texas Medical Branch, Shannon Guillot-Wright, PhD, University of Texas Medical Branch and Bethany Backes, PhD, MSW, MPH, University of Central Florida
Background. The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges with deep impacts to the safety, stability, and wellness of domestic violence (DV) survivors, a group already vulnerable to housing/economic instability and health disparities. This presentation will focus on study findings on the impact of COVID-19 on domestic violence survivors’ housing and economic situation, and examine what remedies and policies participants reported improved safety and stability. Methods. A research-practitioner collaborative model was used to design the study. To explore the impact of the pandemic, we conducted comprehensive online surveys with 446 DV survivors in Harris County, Texas, and follow-up interviews were done with 48 survey participants. Behaviorally specific screening questions assessed survey eligibility as a resident impacted by DV. Descriptive, bivariate, and multivariate approaches were used to analyze survey data and thematic analysis methods were used for qualitative data. Results. Survey participants were racially and ethnically diverse, 77.8% female-identified and 54% were recruited from DV-related community organizations, with remaining coming from other non-profits and social media recruitment. The vast majority of study participants were DV survivors. 83% had experienced past year psychological DV; 69% had experienced past year physical DV and 28% had experienced past year sexual DV. Economic impacts were significant for those impacted by DV. There was 31% reduction in full time work for participants after the pandemic began and 41% were currently unemployed. Only 30% of participants who needed childcare had regular access. Compared to White survey participants, Black participants had over 16% more job loss. Economic needs made it difficult for DV survivors to leave violent relationships and lead to housing loss. The majority (56%) of survey participants experienced homelessness during COVID-19, in large part due to job loss and DV, which compounded to decreased family safety. Service access issues during the pandemic limited avenues for support to address job and housing loss. Rental and housing assistance were ranked the two most difficult services to access. Participants who did get cash assistance and housing vouchers described them as â€Ã...“lifesaving.â€ÂÂ� Safety concerns limited DV survivors’ ability to use economic remedies. Conclusion and Implications. The economic and housing impacts of COVID-19 have been particularly pronounced for DV survivors, with exacerbated impacts for Black and Hispanic survivors. Housing vouchers and stimulus/cash payments are potentially powerful economic tools for survivors, and social workers and other social service professionals need to attend to safety concerns related to DV.
See more of: Workshops