About the SHARE Project
Home Free is participating in a $2 million community-based research study initiated by funding from the Centers for Disease Control. The SHARE (Safe Housing Assistance with Rent Evaluation) study is the truly the first rigorous study of its kind to look at the inextricable connection between domestic violence and housing. Ultimately, the results of the SHARE Project will provide rich information that will help communities to develop best practices and will catalyze dramatic change in the local and national responses to domestic violence. 300 women in total are participating in this study, and Home Free is referring 180 of them (80 from our Housing First program and 100 from other Home Free programs). Preliminary findings are confirming some long-held beliefs and also challenging assumptions. Look for more information about them to come!
About the SHARE Project
When you hear the name Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chances are you don't associate it with domestic violence. But, in fact, the CDC identifies domestic violence as a serious public health issue and has numerous programs designed to help understand and prevent family violence.
Most recently they've granted funding for new studies that will evaluate the impact and effectiveness of programs that respond to these issues using innovative approaches. Volunteers of America Oregon's Home Free-Domestic Violence Intervention Services was one of four intervention models in the nation selected for study.
Dr. Chiquita Rollins from the Multnomah County Domestic Violence Coordinator’s Office and Dr. Nancy Glass from Oregon Health and Sciences University’s Center for Health Disparities Research will serve as the Principal Investigators for the local study.
Upon discovering that Home Free is the only program in the country that uses a “Housing First” model with domestic violence survivors without requiring a prerequisite long-term separation from the abusive partner, Drs. Rollins and Glass were enthusiastic about seeking CDC funding and designed the study after discussions with Kris Billhardt, the program's director.
The study will track Home Free's success in preventing re-victimization, and improving safety and quality of life for survivors of domestic violence and their children.
Outcomes for the survivor, children, and the cost to the community will be measured in experimental and comparison groups by a combination of survivor self-reports, review of medical, police, child welfare, and housing records, as well as domestic violence program reports. Protecting the confidentiality and safety of study participants is absolutely paramount, and, of course, no one will be denied services if they choose not to participate.
"It's a great tribute to be selected and makes a strong statement that our program is worthy of study and possible replication," says Kris Billhardt, Home Free's Program Director and recent recipient of the Champions for Children award presented at the 6th annual Child Abuse and Family Violence Summit in Portland.
“While other Volunteers of America Oregon programs have participated in various evaluation studies, it will be the first time any have participated in this kind of rigorous scientific study to measure the long-term impact of our services on the lives of those who receive them. Results will also provide information about the cost to our community when victims of intimate partner violence do not receive ongoing support,” Billhardt adds.
Home Free’s housing program is unique in its approach among domestic violence services agencies. Rather than provide an emergency facility or temporary apartments for families fleeing domestic violence, the program helps families to access their own permanent housing, and then assists them in staying there – safely and independently. It’s a valuable addition to the emergency shelter system, which is not only stretched to capacity, but focuses most resources on immediate crisis needs.
It's likely that the results of this study will appear in a variety of scholarly journals, and may even become part of statements issued by the CDC regarding “Promising Practices” in the field of IPV (Intimate Partner Violence). This could bring attention and recognition to Home Free and Volunteers of America Oregon, and could also have a positive effect on future fund raising, program development, and public policy.
"Not only are we pleased to have been chosen for this study," Kris stressed, "it's our hope that other communities across the country will be encouraged to develop more services that attend to the needs of survivors beyond their immediate crisis. We knew 30 years ago that emergency shelters were absolutely critical – but we also knew that they were only the first step.
We can’t collude with a community perception that if we have shelters, we are responding adequately to the problem; clearly, shelters alone cannot end the cycle of domestic violence. We hope that this study will provide fuel for our efforts to expand the options we can offer to survivors and their children."