PHILADELPHIA – October 2, 2019 – State Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) announced his proposal to create a trust fund that increases funding for programs that provide housing access to victims fleeing abusive situations such as domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, human trafficking, and stalking.
Victims who attempt to flee these types of abusive situations often face adversity when leaving, which may result in homelessness or being forced to return to an abusive situation due to lack of shelter space. The senator’s proposal, the “Survivor-centered, accessible, fair and empowering” (SAFE) Housing Trust Fund, would help provide victims with a way to leave these dangerous situations by increasing funding needed to expand services for domestic violence programs, transitional housing programs and permanent housing solutions.
“My proposal helps remove the barriers victims face as they try to get out of dangerous situations,” Sen. Hughes said. “This sends the right message that if you’ve mustered enough courage to try to get out, you will have somewhere to go. Someone will be there to embrace you and help you navigate through your trauma. Having a safe haven is the last thing victims and survivors should worry about.”
Sen. Hughes met with domestic violence advocates in May, who helped emphasize the need to increase housing access for victims of abuse. In the senator’s home city of Philadelphia, about 10,000 people seeking emergency housing are turned away annually by Women Against Abuse (WAA) because the program can only provide 200 safe haven beds at a time. The safe haven beds provided by WAA are the only of this kind in the city, and advocates reported that their colleagues across the commonwealth are struggling with the same problem.
The senator’s announcement comes during National Domestic Violence Awareness month, as the U.S. focuses attention promoting awareness on the issue with the goal of ending domestic violence. A national survey found that 92 percent of homeless women reported having experienced severe physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives, according to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, which also found that more than 50 percent of homeless women reported domestic violence was the immediate cause of their homelessness.
The SAFE Housing Trust Fund would also provide resources for youth shelters. This would aid homeless teens and young adults, ages 13-25, who are the primary targets for human trafficking and sexual victimization. Nearly 72 percent of homeless youth reported witnessing or experiencing some physical or sexual abuse at some point in their lives and 53 percent report being unable to seek refuge in a shelter because it was full, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Sen. Hughes has prioritized helping victims of domestic violence and abuse, leading the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus in its push for increased resources for domestic violence and rape prevention initiatives. The SAFE Housing Trust Fund is a part of Sen. Hughes’ comprehensive policy proposals to improve access to fair, safe and affordable housing across the commonwealth. Visit Sen. Hughes website more information on his housing plan.