Home violence filling shelters Study finds 1 in 3 who sought help had domestic problems.

May 07, 1991|By Laura Lippman | Laura Lippman,Evening Sun Staff

Domestic violence is a major force driving people to shelters for the homeless in Maryland, accounting for nearly 1 in 3 cases in the Baltimore suburbs, according to a report issued today.

The survey, developed by Action for the Homeless Inc., found that 14 percent of 1,069 people interviewed during a week in July 1990 said they had left their residences because of domestic violence.

Only drug abuse was cited more often -- by 26 percent -- as the major precipitating factor.

In regions where shelters serve large numbers of families -- the Baltimore and Washington suburbs, the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland -- the number citing domestic violence jumps to the 27-33 percent range. In the city and Western Maryland, where the homeless population is largely male and single, the figures were 6 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

"Central Maryland providers reported unusually high percentages of informal eviction and domestic violence as the primary causes of homelessness," the report notes. "At 33 percent, domestic violence was ranked as the most frequent cause."

But the report points out that the survey was not tailored to develop more complete information about the causes of homelessness, and it makes no recommendation about state's domestic violence programs.

Action for the Homeless mailed surveys to the state's 147 shelters, including emergency shelters, missions and transitional placement facilities.

Shelter workers were asked to survey their clients from July 22 to July 28, asking for basic demographic information, sources of income and reasons for homelessness. Seventy shelters responded.

The results then were broken down and compared with the total number of beds available statewide, in order to assure that the shelters responding were representative.

"Survey responses reflected the broad spectrum of shelter services available," the report concludes.

Preliminary results from the survey, released last November, had indicated that the state's homeless population was almost 50 percent families, as opposed to single persons. All told, 68 percent had some source of income.

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