Housing Survivors Through the Homeless System

In 2020, the Sacramento Continuum of Care was awarded two new rapid rehousing programs dedicated to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking who are either at-risk of or currently experiencing homelessness. The two awarded agencies, My Sister’s House and Opening Doors are the first to be included in Sacramento’s homelessness system. The projects are funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development-Continuum of Care (HUD-CoC) grant and serve 30 individual and family households. 

HUD’s funding dedicated to survivors begins to acknowledge the intersectionality between homelessness and intimate partner violence. Domestic violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness for women and children. Approximately 50% of all homeless women report domestic violence as the immediate cause of their homelessness. It also disproportionately affects homeless mothers, with more than 90% reporting severe physical or sexual assault during their lifetimes.

Under HUD requirements, the CoC needed to develop a coordinated entry system comparable to the current system, but with increased privacy and confidentiality standards. Sacramento Steps Forward began meeting weekly in October 2020 with a group of victim service providers, including the two awarded agencies to develop a system that would respond appropriately to the needs of survivors. We researched best practices, reached out to other Continuums of Care for guidance, and adapted tools to our community. This included triage/housing assessments and prioritization tools from other CoCs, two national surveys, and expertise from the group. Staff from My Sister’s House and Opening Doors also created documents in multiple languages recognizing the need for cultural sensitivity.

Developing the processes from the initial step of assessment to referral took nearly 8 months to complete. We were thrilled to open the system in July 2021 for providers to refer a survivor by connecting with five core access points:

  • My Sister’s House
  • Opening Doors
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Community Against Sexual Harm

We deeply appreciate the incredible and transformative work of our victim service providers, Homebase, and the community to help create a system that provides access to vulnerable households in Sacramento. As we continue to expand, we look forward to creating more partnerships with victim service providers.