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Domestic Violence Housing First (DVHF) Demonstration Evaluation

Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women with and without children. Little evidence exists about effective strategies to assist women as they work to avoid homelessness while freeing themselves and their children from abuse by partners and ex-partners. This quasi-experimental, longitudinal study examines the impact of the "Domestic Violence Housing First" model (which offers mobile advocacy and/or flexible financial assistance to survivors) on the lives of domestic violence survivors and their children over time. The study uses information from survivors, their service provider advocates, and agency records to track the impact over 24 months of DVHF services on 406 domestic violence survivors experiencing homelessness or unstable housing. Additional analyses will be posted to this page as they are ready.

Final Report of Findings through 24 Months

Unstably housed domestic violence survivors who received the Domestic Violence Housing First (DVHF) model – including housing-related advocacy and/or flexible financial assistance – reported a number of positive changes at 6-, 12-, 18- and 24-months after seeking services. Evidence indicates that the DVHF model is more effective than services as usual (SAU) in helping survivors achieve housing stability, safety, and improved mental health over twenty-four months. Survivors who received DVHF also reported higher prosocial behaviors from their children compared to parents who received SAU. Positive change in these domains happened quickly (within the first 6 months after seeking services) and persisted across 12, 18, and 24 months. The model does not appear to be more effective than SAU in increasing financial stability, increasing quality of life, or reducing substance misuse. It also showed no impact on children’s school attendance, school performance, nor on their behavioral problems.

In addition to testing the primary study hypotheses, we conducted four exploratory analyses and present findings in this summary. First, advocates were able to accurately predict whether program participants would be more stably housed six months into the future, although the effect size was small. Second, the DVHF model worked similarly across people from various race and ethnicity groups, as well as both urban and rural geographic service areas. Third, for participants who had received DVHF, the extent to which they reported agencies engaging in trauma-informed practices was positively related to their housing stability and safety, and negatively related to their depression and alcohol misuse at both 6-months and 12-months follow-up. Fourth, COVID-19 did not appear to impact the effectiveness of the intervention across most outcomes.

Interim Findings after 6 and 12 Months

Across the first six months after survivors sought services from one of the five DV programs involved in this study, 59 percent received some level of the DVHF model. Approximately one-third of the survivors (33 percent) received services as usual, and eight percent received no services at all. A number of small but positive changes emerged as a result of having received DVHF services. Findings across 12 months after DV survivors reached out for help revealed that those who received mobile advocacy and/or flexible funding showed greater improvement one year later in housing stability, safety-related empowerment, and PTSD, compared with survivors who received services as usual. Survivors also reported that their children had higher pro-social skills.

The Domestic Violence Housing First (DVHF) Demonstration Evaluation is being conducted by the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence and its subcontractor, Michigan State University, on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime (contract #HHSP233201600070C), with additional funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (#OPP1117416) to the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.