The Julian Center, the Children’s Bureau and Coburn Place Safe Haven – agencies serving those dealing with domestic violence – all say they struggle with having enough safe, emergency shelter everyday for individuals and families in need.
Jenni White with Coburn Place says homeless shelters are at capacity nightly and most don’t take families.
“A lot of the folks that we serve have children," she says, "and so we do everything we can to keep our kids safe and off the street and so we may double up with family members or we may honestly stay in that unhealthy environment for longer than maybe we wanted to – so that we can create an exit strategy that’s safer than just up and leaving.”
White says while all the homeless and domestic violence agencies work to get people into more permanent housing, the lack of safe, affordable housing in Indianapolis is monumental.
It’s estimated 3,000 people became homeless in 2016 in Indianapolis to escape domestic violence. White says violence is only part of the problem.
“The majority of the clients that we do see are dealing with the intersection of homelessness, poverty and domestic violence. And then all the barriers that come along with just being a human being," she says. "There may be some substance abuse involved, there may be mental health involved or there may a child involved with all those situations.”
White says talk of deep cuts in federal programs, possibly including the Office of Violence Against Women, is causing great concern.
“We are preparing ourselves to do everything we can to plan for those cuts because if those things happen, it will directly affect our budget at Coburn Place by 300-thousand dollars next year – as early as next year. And that would be a very, very scary place for us and all of the clients that we serve.”
Representatives from CHIP, the Domestic Violence Network and the three shelters took part in a panel discussion Thursday to connect the dots between domestic violence, homelessness and the lack of affordable housing in the city.