Survivors of gender-based violence (“GBV”) face many barriers when trying to find and apply for safe housing. In Illinois, there are over 100 Public Housing Agencies (“PHAs”) that run subsidized housing programs in their areas, including the Housing Choice Voucher (“HCV”), Project-Based Voucher (“PBV”) and Public Housing programs. Between June and September of 2023, The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence connected with PHAs statewide to get a better understanding of the landscape of subsidized housing options available to survivors of GBV and determine whether these options were easily accessible.
Our report and subsequent recommendations focus on five (5) primary factors which were identified based on trauma-informed practices and Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) guidance. These factors are often determinative regarding whether survivors of GBV can access safe housing. We gathered information—by reviewing publicly-available resources and engaging in individual dialogue with PHAs—to assess open housing waitlists, preferences for survivors, Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”) Emergency Transfer Plans, reasonable accommodations, and language access options. Through this process, we evaluated the barriers survivors may face when trying to access housing options. In this report, we provide concrete recommendations for PHAs that are looking to improve their current services and practices for survivors of GBV.