By Angela Dannenbring
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month — a month-long observance to honor survivors, bring awareness to prevention efforts, and continue voicing actionable solutions to support those affected.
Reflecting on the last couple of years, it’s important to the community now — more than ever — that we create change. As a result of stay-at-home measures from the pandemic, domestic violence rates have worsened in King County.
Looking forward, we must remove any barriers for survivors to reach their pathway to freedom.
One of the barriers that slows the transition from crisis to safety is access to safe and affordable housing. Housing costs in South King County continue to rise and not enough new homes are being built. Often times, survivors fleeing dangerous situations might not even be able to find an available apartment for rent.
At the Domestic Abuse Women’s Network (DAWN), our job is to help eliminate barriers to safe housing as much as we can. Our collective mission is to shelter, support, and empower survivors of domestic abuse.
The state can help by spurring housing creation that meets the needs of people of all income levels. We need to change zoning laws that prevent density and affordable housing creation. We must invest in programs that subsidize housing and embed affordable units in new apartment buildings. In the immediate, we can also help survivors remain in their new homes by providing short-term rental assistance if they are having trouble getting back on their feet.
Some people are talking about rent control as a way to make housing affordable, but it won’t. Rent control would erase over a year’s worth of new housing creation in King County. It would also slash $500 million from state and local taxes over the next 10 years. We need those funds to help invest in housing and in programs for survivors of domestic violence.
Bottom line, our clients need more housing options. Not restrictions that make finding a home more difficult. Across Federal Way and the rest of the state, we must break down these barriers to empower the community and ensure that survivors reach their freedom — because everyone deserves a place to call home.
If you need help, connection to resources, or if you’re interested in learning how to support DAWN, please visit our website at dawnrising.org.
Angela Dannenbring is the Executive Director at Domestic Abuse Women’s Network in South King County, which is a member of the Partnership for Affordable Housing, a coalition focused on increasing housing affordability in Washington state.