December 12, 2022
Thank you, Chair Cabán, Chair Williams, and members of the City Council Women and Gender Equity and Civil and Human Rights Committees for the opportunity to submit written testimony.
Founded in 1994, New Destiny is a New York City-based nonprofit committed to ending the cycle of violence for low-income families and individuals experiencing homelessness and domestic violence. We build and manage supportive, affordable housing and through our rapid rehousing program, HousingLink, we connect survivors with safe, permanent housing. New Destiny also advocates for housing resources for domestic violence survivors and their families. We invite you to read our 2022 NYC Policy Priorities.
New Destiny is a co-convener of the Family Homelessness Coalition (FHC), a broad group of organizations and impacted advocates committed to tackling homelessness among families in our city.
We are grateful to Council Member Brannan for sponsoring Intro 148, which will amend the definition of “victim of domestic violence” under the New York City Human Rights Law to recognize economic abuse as a form of domestic violence and extend existing protections for survivors who have experienced economic abuse. Up to 99% of survivors of intimate partner violence experience financial abuse, while being stripped from their social safety nets,1 and more than 1 in 2 survivors experience nonconsensual, credit-related transactions.2
Economic violence has long-lasting effects and significantly limits access to housing, employment, and other resources. As a consequence of this abuse, survivors often have poor credit scores and rental history; they may have lost their job, and, in some cases, they may have lost their rental subsidy due to violations committed by the abuser. New Destiny strongly supports Intro 148.
Survivors in our city are in dire need of additional housing resources and the Council and Adams administration have opportunities to mitigate the double trauma of abuse and homelessness. For far too long, domestic violence has been the number one driver of family homelessness in New York City.3 In 2021, more than 10,000 New Yorkers entered the Human Resources Administration (HRA) domestic violence shelter system,4 while 39% of families who entered the Department of Homeless Services shelter system identified domestic violence as the primary reason for their homelessness.5 With so few housing resources, once in shelter, survivors are far more likely to remain in shelter rather than to move to a permanent home. Fifty three percent of the survivors with minors that left HRA domestic violence shelter in 2021 moved to another shelter instead of permanent housing. That is more than 1 in 2 families that left shelter for shelter.
Shelter will always be an important resource for survivors of domestic violence, but it should not be the only resource. More must be done to effectively support survivors’ housing stability. It is time that the city:
- opens the door to HPD homeless set-aside units for survivors in HRA domestic violence shelter,
- includes domestic violence survivors and their children as an eligible population for city-funded supportive housing,
- and adequately funds the newly created Housing Stability Low-Barrier Grant Program for survivors.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit written testimony. New Destiny looks forward to working with the Council and the administration to advance these initiatives.
We welcome any questions you may have.
Gabriela Sandoval Requena
Senior Policy Analyst at New Destiny Housing
gsrequena [at] newdestinyhousing [dot] org
1 Postmus, J., Plummer S., Mcmahon, S., Murshid, N., & Kim, M. (2012). Understanding economic abuse in the lives of survivors. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27(3), 411-430.
2 Bhattacharya, A., Dorosh-Walter, B., Reid, B., Sussman, E., Kourousias, L., Garcia Bigelow, M., Menna, M., Correa, M., Cameo., Young., Wee, S., & Inzunza, T. (2022). Reinvesting in Economic Justice, Equity, and Solidarity for Survivors in New York City. Retrieved from: https://nycsurvivorej.mailchimpsites.com
3 Silkowski, A. (2019). Housing Survivors: How New York City Can Increase Housing Stability for Survivors of Domestic Violence. New York, NY: Comptroller Bureau of Policy and Research Bureau of Budget. Retrieved from: https://comptroller.nyc.gov/wp-content/uploads/documents/Housing_Survivors_102119.pdf
4 NYC Department of Social Services (2022). 2021 Annual Report on Exits from NYC Domestic Violence Shelters.
5 NYC Department of Homeless Services Shelter Eligibility Data.