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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: March 3, 2021 10:47 AM
From: Senator Vincent J. Hughes
To: All Senate members
Subject: "Survivor-centered, accessible, fair and empowering” (SAFE) Housing Trust Fund

In the near future, I will be reintroducing Senate Bill 913 (2019-2020) to establish the SAFE housing trust fund that will benefit victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, human trafficking and stalking.
The “Survivor-centered, accessible, fair and empowering” (SAFE) Housing Trust Fund will provide much needed funding to increase resources to domestic violence programs, transitional housing programs and permanent housing solutions to better respond to the needs of these victims and survivors. We must provide real support to the individuals leaving dangerous situations and ensure there are enough resources to meet shelter and housing needs.
Every year the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) releases its Annual Domestic Violence Counts Report to shed light on the unduplicated number of services requested in a single 24-hour period. In 2019, NNEDV found that nationwide 7,732 requests for shelter and housing went unmet with 288 requests coming from Pennsylvania.  Likewise, according to Women Against Abuse (WAA) in Philadelphia, 5,646 requests for shelter went unmet in 2019 because WAA’s 200 safe-haven beds - the only shelter beds available for survivors of domestic violence in Philadelphia – were already full. Victims should not have to face the impossible choice of staying with their abusers or becoming homeless because they cannot find safe shelter or housing.
The intersection of homelessness and intimate partner violence is well documented. According to a national survey, 92% of homeless women report having experienced severe physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives. Upwards of 50% of all homeless women report that domestic violence was the immediate cause of their homelessness. Multiple studies report that more than 80% of homeless mothers with children were survivors of intimate partner violence.
There is another alarming connection between abuse, homelessness, and human trafficking especially among young people (ages 13 - 25). Nearly 72% of homeless youth reported experiencing physical or sexual abuse at some point in their lives. These young people are especially vulnerable to human trafficking and sexual victimization due to the lack of safe harbors. Housing is at the forefront of their needs; however, 53% reported being unable to enter a shelter because it was full.
Advocates continuously identify housing as a primary need and a critical component in the long-term safety and stability of these survivors. A nationwide study of residents in domestic violence shelters found that 84% of survivors needed help finding affordable housing. Survivors and victims of abuse already face many economic, employment, transportation, and child-care challenges - finding housing should not be one of them. I hope you will join me in cosponsoring this important legislation.
Previous co-sponsor of this legislation includes Senators Collet, Fontana, Haywood, Tartaglione, Brewster, Browne, Costa, and Muth.

If you have any questions, please contact Veronica Miller in my office.