December 5, 2023 Dec 05, 2023 9 min read
If you are in Canada and need emergency shelter or housing due to domestic violence, search for shelters near you using the Go Thrive Go database.
Across the US and Canada, approximately 30,000 people rely on domestic violence shelters for housing. While the demand for emergency housing is high, lack of adequate information could hinder some from taking advantage of the resource even when it’s needed.
This article provides an in-depth look at what domestic violence shelters are, what services they provide, how to find them, and more.
Sometimes referred to as “women’s shelters,” domestic violence shelters provide emergency housing and protection to adults and children fleeing active domestic violence situations. Shelters like these can be found in countries all over the world.
There are several different types of shelters, with some offering short-term housing and others offering longer-term solutions. Most domestic violence shelters are housed inside of discrete apartment buildings or houses.
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Emergency shelters are the most common type of housing solution available to victims of domestic violence. They enforce no minimum length of stay. However, there is typically a maximum length of stay of anywhere from 30 days to six months.
These shelters are designed to take people in on short notice and provide a range of services and necessary resources. For example, emergency shelters typically provide bedding, clothing, meals, hygiene products, etc.
Due to the high-risk nature of housing people in active crisis situations, most emergency domestic violence shelters keep their locations confidential and discrete. They typically prohibit residents from sharing the location’s address (which means no guests) and require that specific rules be followed, including enforced curfews.
Transitional housing programs are typically available to those who have fulfilled a maximum length of stay at an emergency shelter but are still in need of housing assistance. Once your stay at an emergency shelter comes to an end, you may become eligible for residency at a transitional housing facility.
Although all transitional housing programs differ, residents can typically stay anywhere from six months to two years. Most transitional houses do not maintain confidential locations.
Similar to emergency housing, transitional houses may enforce house rules and shared chores. However, residents enjoy an increased degree of freedom when compared with the strict nature of most emergency shelters.
In some regions, rapid re-housing programs are available to those in need of immediate housing solutions. Unlike emergency shelters, individuals are placed in their own apartments or houses, enabling their independence.
Rapid re-housing programs are designed to assist those who are currently unhoused, meaning that a victim of domestic violence may not be able to take advantage of this service until after they have left their current housing situation. However, it’s possible to apply for rapid re-housing while staying at an emergency shelter.
Studies have shown that domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness for women and children.
Learn more about rapid re-housing here.
In addition to offering shelter to victims and survivors, many domestic violence shelters also provide a range of other services.
While services vary by location and shelter type, many emergency shelters offer:
Bedding, clothing, food, and other necessities are typically provided at emergency shelters as well.
For those currently in Canada, the easiest way to find an emergency shelter near you is to visit the Go Thrive Go search tool. Alternatively, US residents can use this search tool provided by DomesticShelters.org. Those in Canada can also find a shelter using this search tool available through ShelterSafe.ca.
If you live outside of the US or Canada, try using your preferred search engine to search for “domestic violence shelter” or “emergency shelter” plus the name of your city or region. While shelters are not available everywhere, some form of emergency assistance for domestic violence victims is available in most areas.
No. Emergency domestic violence shelters are provided at zero cost to residents. However, some longer-term housing solutions may require fees or rent. For example, some transitional shelters require a security deposit or entry fee, and long-term housing solutions such as rapid re-housing typically require residents to pay rent.
This depends. Most emergency domestic violence shelters maintain discrete, confidential locations and a high-degree of on-site security, but this is not true across the board. Longer-term housing solutions such as transitional housing and rapid re-housing typically cannot provide location confidentiality. That said, all shelters strive to provide as much safety and security as possible to their residents, even if the location is not confidential.
Yes. Most, if not all, domestic violence shelters are available to victims with children regardless of gender.
Sometimes. While many domestic violence shelters are only available to women and children, more and more shelters are providing services to male victims. Admittedly, though, shelters that accept male residents are still much harder to find than women-only shelters. In most cases, women-only domestic violence shelters can refer male victims to shelters or housing programs that serve men.
It’s worth noting that gender plays a big role in the politics of domestic violence shelters, as many shelters advertised as women’s shelters still do not accept trans women victims of domestic violence. For information about LGBTQIA2S+ domestic violence services in Canada, use the Go Thrive Go search tool.
Unfortunately, yes. According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, over 60% of requests for emergency housing and shelter go unmet due to a lack of space and resources.
If you are in need of emergency housing but have been unable to locate shelter space in your area, visit this article from DomesticShelters.org for some ideas on what steps to take next.
Sometimes referred to as “women’s shelters,” domestic violence shelters provide emergency housing and protection to adults and children fleeing active domestic violence situations. Emergency shelters and transitional housing are the two most common types of shelter available to domestic violence victims. Shelters and transitional housing typically come at little to no charge for residents, though some longer-term housing programs may require rent or deposits. Most domestic violence shelters also provide counselling services, childcare, necessities (bedding, clothing, food, etc.), as well as job and housing search assistance. Most shelters and transitional housing programs are only available to women and children, although more shelters are beginning to accept men. Unfortunately, well over half of all requests for domestic violence-related emergency housing go unmet due to a lack of space.
Dana Anastasia (they/them) is an independent writer, editor, podcaster, and artist. With a degree in interdisciplinary sociology and a background in domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy, Dana brings a keen awareness of victim and survivor needs and experiences to their work. Learn more at www.danaanastasia.com.
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