The Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness participates in a statewide count of homeless individuals every January during the annual A Point in Time event. During this count, agencies that work with the homeless population go out into the community and look within their own agencies to assess the number of people without a place to stay for the night. This year Compass Center for Women and Families will be participating in the count.
As an agency offering domestic violence crisis services, Compass Center sees a variety of issues that come as a result of abuse including emotional distress, financial difficulty, and physical injury. During this time of year when the A Point in Time count occurs, we are reminded of one of the most pressing issues for some of our clients — homelessness.
When a victim of domestic violence manages to escape an abusive situation, it is often without the financial or social means to thrive on their own. As part of the cycle of abuse, abusers often isolate their victim from friends and family, decide whether or not they can work, and control the finances. Under these circumstances, a victim of abuse has few choices of where to go when leaving an abuser and is often forced into a state of homelessness to avoid returning to the abuser.
Women who leave an abuser without a stable place to go are also more likely to end up back with the abuser to avoid homelessness or end up in another abusive relationship because of their vulnerable state. The National Coalition for the Homeless reports that 63% of homeless women have been victims of domestic abuse. This number reflects how much domestic violence influences the lives of the homeless female population.
We must recognize the huge impact homelessness has on our community. To do this we must look at the causes of homelessness and try and work towards change at the root of the problem. Whether that means preventing domestic violence, helping to treat those with persistent mental illness, or connecting clients to financial resources, Compass Center is a part of that effort in Orange County to help end the cycle of homelessness.