After they walk away, victims of domestic abuse often are left with no place to live and little means of support, and frequently end up homeless. In New York, this has helped drive the shelter population to a record high, with more than a quarter of families in shelters citing abuse as the cause for their stay, reports the New York Times. Nationwide, many cities report a similar experience. The scourge of violence in families has emerged as a priority on the housing agenda of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has begun a rent subsidy program to move hundreds of abuse victims out of shelters and is stepping up counseling in public housing, where domestic violence is especially high. Some reliable tools to keep families from becoming homeless, such as financial aid to keep them from eviction, do not work when a woman and her children have to escape the home. Another challenge: The need to keep whereabouts unknown to the abuser can limit apartment hunting and make the search more difficult, as victims must cut ties to their old neighborhoods.
Time is of the essence. Economics and emotions can quickly lead women back to their abusers. Police attribute 70 percent of the increase in public housing crime in the last three years to domestic violence. Crime related to domestic violence is high citywide, accounting for 40 percent of all felony assaults and 34 percent of rapes. The police department has been devoting more resources to the problem, with more than 46,000 domestic violence arrests so far this year and more than 67,000 visits to households that have had violent episodes in the past. Homicides involving intimate partners inched down to 37 last year, compared with 40 in 2012 and 47 in 2011. Officials found it particularly worrisome that three-quarters of the 37 victims killed in domestic violence last year had no contact with the police.