Safe, affordable housing is a major barrier for people leaving an abusive relationship. Once a person is ready to leave, they must have somewhere to go or risk homelessness. There is a shortage of affordable housing; market rate housing costs are high and continue to rise.
Due to the tight rental market, landlords have become very strict in their requirements of potential tenants. Most require tenants to earn 2.5 times the monthly rent; in Minneapolis, to even be considered for a two-bedroom market rate unit—which on average rents at $1,400/month—the typical income screening means a tenant must make $42,000 annually. High paying jobs are full-time, and the costs of childcare to allow for full-time employment can be prohibitively expensive for parents who are rebuilding their lives on their own. Additionally, any potential tenant’s record must be free of evictions, late rent payments and criminal charges. A clean record can be uncommon due to the violence they’ve experienced.
While housing has become incredibly difficult for victims/survivors to secure, Cornerstone has several programs to help participants achieve housing stability. Our advocates work with participants to decrease barriers to renting through programs like job readiness and financial empowerment to create ways to increase income and decrease expenses. We also form partnerships with other agencies and provide referrals for services like childcare assistance and eviction expungement, and we educate landlords about the realities faced by victims/survivors.
Emergency Safe Housing
Our emergency shelter allows families to address their immediate safety needs. Without having basic needs met, including food, clothing and a safe place to live, it’s difficult to work towards financial and housing stability.
SAFE Transitional Housing Program
Cornerstone’s transitional housing program began in 1989 and has since evolved into a 2-year program at several small apartment buildings. While in the program, residents are paired with a Supportive Housing Specialist that works with them as they take their next steps. The program is meant to help residents work toward reaching their goals and vision for their future, in a safe and empowering environment. New to this program, a participant workbook provides tools and exercises for participants to work through on their own or alongside their advocate.
Cornerstone partners with Hennepin County on a housing program designed to help individuals and families identified through the county as being homeless due to domestic violence quickly exit homelessness and return to permanent housing. Our advocates work with individuals to address barriers to achieving housing and, once they’re ready, assist in the search for market-rate housing, along with providing six months of rental and utility assistance.
We know that the ability to leave an abuser and to stay safe is often tied to financial independence. Cornerstone offers an Individual Development Account (IDA or matched savings account) for saving towards a house, education or business. Individuals must first complete an 10-hour financial empowerment course focused on budgeting, credit, banking and investing through a safety lens.
Cornerstone staff provide on-site advocacy support to residents 8-12 hours a week at two long-term subsidized housing developments. We connect residents to community organizations in order to meet basic needs, and we offer one-on-one goal planning, application assistance, financial empowerment classes and more, with the goal to maintain their stable housing.
Without programs like these to address housing needs, victims are more likely to move from shelter to shelter, be on public assistance or remain with their abuser.