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Domestic Violence Matters: The Point In Time Homeless Count

Note: This is a guest third post in a new blog series by DASH called ‘Domestic Violence Matters’, which discusses current events and media coverage of domestic violence. We believe that empowering, provocative, and original media and storytelling must play a critical role in helping to overcome domestic violence in our society.

Over one thousand homeless families in the DC area cited a domestic violence relationship as their current cause of homelessness.

Each year the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) partners with local communities to engage in a nationwide count of homeless individuals and families living in emergency shelter, transitional housing, or unsheltered locations. On January 28, 2015, volunteers were tasked to collect this data to better understand the major causes of homelessness in the D.C. region.

This week, the 2015 Point in Time Count Report for the DC Metro Area was released by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. The 99-page report is full of important information and statistics on the homeless population in region.

Below are four of the findings that correlate domestic violence and homelessness in the District:

1. Domestic violence is strongly correlated with family homelessness. Domestic violence was the most defining characteristic among homeless families. Over 30% of the families surveyed indicated having experienced domestic violence in the past, and 19%  reported their current episode of homelessness was caused by domestic violence.

2. Homelessness overall decreased. There are 11,623 homeless individuals in the region. Overall homelessness in the metro area decreased by 2.7 percent (or 323 people) from 2014.

3. Domestic violence related homelessness, however, is on the rise for individuals. Among single adults, homelessness caused by domestic violence increased 65%.

4. The increase is even more dramatic for homeless families. Among homeless families, domestic violence related homelessness rose 322% from 261 in 2014 to 1,101 this year. Over one thousand homeless families in the DC area cited a domestic violence relationship as their current cause of homelessness.

DASH’s mission is to be an innovator in providing access to safe housing and services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual violence and their families as they rebuild their lives on their own terms. Support families today.

Learn more about DASH’s safe housing programs for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their families in the District.

What It Takes Blog Series #1: Finding Safety vs. Leaving, the Case for Safety Planning

Note: This is the first post in DASH’s ongoing What It Takes blog series, which examines and explains the various factors that make getting safe from abuse so difficult. Each post explores factors that survivors have to navigate on their journey to finding safety. Learn more about the campaign at the What It Takes page, and please spread the word: WhatItTakesDC. 

Most people think that in order to get safe from abuse, victims of domestic violence should just leave their abusers, that separation is the solution. The reality however, is that leaving is a complicated, dangerous process that takes time and planning.

At DASH we don’t require survivors of domestic violence to leave their abuser in order to access our services. We do this because empowerment is an integral part of our model, but also because it just doesn’t work, mandating the behavior of adults rarely does. Instead, we focus on safety, we want the victims we work with to be as safe as possible in whatever choice they make. For some this is controversial – but for us it’s a natural component of the culture of trust we’ve built at DASH.


For this reason, we are very intentional about the language in the What It Takes campaign, we want to address the misconception that all victims of abuse “should just leave,” but we also want to push back on the idea that leaving is the best option for everyone. It’s important to acknowledge the reality that not everybody leaves – and it is just as vital for those who stay in abusive relationships to find safety. Our Clinical Director, Emma Kupferman put it best when she said,  “If we are really going to fight the epidemic of domestic violence, we have to be there to support all survivors, not just those who have left.”

Leaving is the most dangerous time for victims of domestic violence, it takes planning and an immense amount of foresight. Before leaving, survivors need access to housing, stable finances, important documents and reliable transportation among others. Another big barrier for survivors who want to leave is fear – and for good reason, 75% of domestic violence related homicides occur when the survivor is trying to leave. In these situations the abuser will go to extreme lengths in order to maintain power over their partner.


For survivors who decide to stay in their relationships – and many do – safety planning is crucial. Safety plans are based on the individual situation of the survivor, there is no one size fits all plan for staying safe. Survivors are asked to think about where they feel safe in their home, different things that trigger their abuser as well as people they trust that they can reach out to in emergencies. An example of a safety plan can be found here.

We are not advocating that survivors stay in abusive relationships – we are advocating for support and access to services for all survivors, no matter their situation.

Learn More

6 Reasons to Attend Allies in Change; Part 2

Join us at Allies in Change as we honor the people and organizations that make a difference at DASH. Need a reason to buy a ticket? We’ve got six good ones. See part 1 here.

4. Hear a Survivor’s Story. Our Special Guest Speaker will be a DASH survivor who will share her story and courageous efforts to escape from abuse and rebuild her life.

5. Take snapshots in our photo booth! Thanks to MOI Inc. our photo booth sponsor!

6. Support Safe Housing. At DASH we believe that safe housing should be a right shared by everyone. Help us make that a reality, buy a ticket today.

Join us on April 30th, go to our event page for tickets and information.

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Allies in Change Awards Reception

DASH’s Allies in Change Awards Reception recognizes community partners who have made a difference in the lives of women and children facing homelessness due to domestic violence. As the District Alliance for Safe Housing, DASH relies on our allies in the community to amplify DASH’s mission and work to ensure that every home is a safe home for survivors of abuse.

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

6:00PM to 8:00PM

Center for Strategic and International Studies (1616 Rhode Island Ave, NW, DC)

RSVP here

To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, click here or contact Jasmine at jowens@dashdc.wpengine.com.

DASHing into the Community: 1

Art Group Profile: Amanda

We are starting a new monthly blog featuring the community partners and volunteers who contribute so much to the success of the DASH safe housing programs. Amanda volunteers every week in the children’s Art Group. Read below to see what her favorite art project has been!

1. Why did you decide to start volunteering with DASH?

I’ve always had a passion for volunteering.  When I moved to DC two years ago, I was looking for volunteer opportunities that were consistent and that I could really make a commitment to.  I first heard about DASH from one of my friends who was a volunteer.  I was definitely interested in volunteering here based on what a great organization DASH seemed to be.  I also have always had a passion for art.  So when an opportunity presented itself to volunteer on a weekly basis for Art Group, it seemed like it could be a really good fit.  After the first Tuesday night of volunteering for Art Group, I knew that it was actually a great fit!

2.  What is your favorite Art Project that you have created in group thus far?

I really thought about this question, and what I continuously went back to was when we made snowflakes right before the Holidays.  No matter what age the children were, this project presented no requirements or restrictions, like painting in the lines, etc.  They could fold the pieces of paper into any type of fold, could fold it in half, or fold it ten times, and they could cut whatever shapes they wanted to into it.  No matter what, the end result was a beautiful snowflake.  To me, this project really portrayed what art should be; a way to express yourself through creation.  Furthermore, it was wonderful to see how excited and proud the children were when we hung the snowflakes up all over the room.

3.  What’s your favorite thing about volunteering with Art Group?

Seeing what the kids create from week to week, and how they’re able to express themselves through art.  Selfishly, I would also say that it forces me to focus on and appreciate the here and now and leave everything else at the door for at least an hour and a half.  I think sometimes the focus and appreciation of the present gets lost in the busy shuffle of everyday life. It also provides a humbling reminder on a weekly basis of what matters most; the importance of community and taking care of one another in that community.

4.  Why do you think that Art Group is an important program at DASH?

As cliche as this sounds, to me, art can be therapeutic on a diversity of levels.  If you’re having a bad day or whatever you may be going through, doing art on any level – whether it’s painting, cutting shapes, coloring, or creating a Monet-like masterpiece; it forces you to focus on what you are doing in that moment and takes your mind off of everything else, if even for a short period of time.  Basically, it’s like a breath of fresh air for your mind.

Art Group at DASH is important because for an hour and a half, it provides an opportunity for the kids – no matter what their age is – to focus on creating something that is completely unrelated to anything else, and provides that mental breath of fresh air.  Further, I think that through creating something like a piece of artwork that they are excited about and proud of, it helps build their confidence through a tremendously fun mechanism.


ED Peg Hacskaylo on Newstalk

With this year’s unusually severe winter conditions, the District of Columbia has seen a nearly doubled rate of families in emergency housing. [1] DASH Executive Director and Founder, Peg Hacskaylo went on air to discuss the DC homelessness crisis with Bruce DePuyt at News Channel 8.

Hacskaylo was joined by Patricia Fugere, the Executive Director of the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless.

Together they discussed the fact that most of the District’s housing resources are unable to reach the lowest income individuals and families in the region, which has contributed to the current crisis. Fugere however, asserts that there has been an affordable housing crisis in DC for the past several years, and that nearly half of the affordable housing stock once held in the city has been lost in the past decade.

They agree that it is important to focus on providing services, resources, and facilities for those very low income individuals and families as well as preserving the existing affordable housing that is at risk of gentrification.

Discussed within the segment


was: issues of family separation, veteran and senior homelessness, challenges faced by the LGBTQ population, and myths and stereotypes surrounding homelessness.

Check out the entire segment here.

[1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/dc-homeless-crisis-puts-in-play-grays-record-as-city-steward/2014/02/09/098d518a-8dca-11e3-95dd-36ff657a4dae_story.html

Share-A-Haircut for DASH!


In need of a haircut? Visit a local Hair Cuttery!

On February 4th and 5th, when any client (adult or child) purchases a haircut at Hair Cuttery, they will match that haircut by donating a free haircut certificate to DASH!  The free certificates will be given to women and children residents at DASH.  Help spread the word!


12 Days to Make the Season Bright for DASH Families!

It’s not too late to consider a gift for the District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH)!

DASH’s programs help prevent homelessness for women and children who have survived domestic violence; and help them to establish safe, independent lives on their own terms.

We decided to make it easy for you to give.

Click on the link below to make your year-end donation to DASH!

Donate Now

Your giving will allow a family a fresh start and their NEW YEAR can begin TODAY.

DASH has grown to become D.C.’s largest dedicated safe housing provider for survivors and their families. We are able to continue to provide these services for survivors with your support!

  • 23,870 safe housing bed nights to 220 individuals (74 women and 97 children);
  • prevent another 350 individuals from falling into homelessness by facilitating their placements in emergency, transitional, and permanent housing; and
  • assist over 1,500 survivors to exercise their housing rights to avoid unlawful eviction stemming from violence in their homes through our community outreach efforts each year.

 Thank you for your support!

DASH Receives National Award for Innovation in Safe Housing

On Monday, December 16, the District Alliance for Safe Housing, Inc. (DASH) was named as one of four national awardees of the Mary Bryon Project’s Celebrating Solutions Award for its innovative work in providing safe housing for victims of domestic and sexual violence in the District of Columbia.

The Mary Byron Project was established in 2000 in memory of the young woman whose tragic murder led to the creation of automated crime victim notification technologies. As a nationally recognized thought leader on domestic violence, the Mary Byron Project cultivates and supports efforts that extend beyond crisis management to attack the root causes of this epidemic and help build safer, healthier communities.  They created the Celebrating Solutions Awards to showcase and applaud local innovations that demonstrate promise in breaking the cycle of violence. They select programs that can serve as models for the nation and offer $10,000 cash awards in recognition of their pioneering efforts. Nominations are judged by a panel of experts in criminal justice, health care, and public policy, and other disciplines that address domestic violence.

DASH is being recognized for their ground-breaking model of providing housing for survivors who face homelessness as a result of abuse.  Throughout all of their programs, DASH works to ensure that domestic violence survivors, regardless of their circumstances, have access to a full range of housing options and that they don’t have to become homeless in the first place just to become safe from violence.  Since then, through their model, partnerships, and example, they have helped change how safe housing is operated throughout the District and have helped hundreds of survivors find a safe place to call home.

“We are thrilled to be honored by the Mary Byron Project with the Celebrating Solutions Award” said Peg Hacskaylo, Executive Director of DASH.  “Women are one the fastest growing groups of homeless people in the country and are also more vulnerable to be victimized while homeless.  Through this award, we can continue to highlight our work to ensure that hundreds of families become safe from abuse without facing life on the streets.”  Funds will be used to support DASH’s safe housing programs.

DASH Partners with People Animals Love!

pupDASH is proud to announce a new partnership with People Animals Love (PAL). Twice a month, volunteers with dogs will be joining DASH children and their mothers for some pet therapy and playtime.
November 2nd was the first PAL event and it was beautiful outside. We had two pup2puppies, Paris and Tamu, join us for an afternoon of fun on the playground. Paris even came dressed in costume as a banana split! Both the dogs are trained by PAL to work with people and are calm, loving animals. We ran around, played on the playground, did tricks and enjoyed some cuddling with the puppies. After an hour of hardy playing, both the puppies and the kids were ready for naps. We can’t wait to have the puppies and their owners back in two weeks!

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United Way: #9391 | CFC: #99008
District Alliance for Safe Housing | PO Box 91730 Washington, DC 20090
202-462-3274 | info@dashdc.org | 501(c)(3) | #71-1019574