Sexual Violence Research Initiative


Mariel BarnesKate Walsh headshotProfessors Mariel Barnes (LaFollette School for Public Affairs) and Kate Walsh (Gender & Women’s Studies & Psychology) in collaboration with graduate student Kaitlyn Sims (Agriculture and Applied Economics) and senior undergraduate student Nicole Meyer (Psychology) were recently awarded a 3-year contract from the Department for Children and Families to conduct an evaluation of the Wisconsin Domestic Violence Housing First (DVHF) Pilot Program. This award program was made possible with federal funding from the American Rescue Plan.

Barnes and Walsh also received a Wisconsin Idea Collaboration Grant from UW Extension to supplement this award and fund a graduate research assistant for the 2022-2023 academic year along with project travel and other support. As part of the DVHF program, nine domestic violence organization across Wisconsin have received pilot funding to implement the Housing First philosophy – that is, instead of emergency shelter or transitional housing, organizations should prioritize safe, stable, and permanent housing for those leaving abusive situations. The team plans to evaluate the impact of this pilot at both the individual level to determine whether recipients of DVHF funds have better long-term housing, financial, health, educational, and life satisfaction outcomes, and the organization level to assess whether DVHF is an effective strategy for lessening the enormous economic and social costs of domestic violence. Most importantly, the findings of this evaluation will have important implications for how policymakers fund supportive services related to domestic violence in Wisconsin and beyond.

Dr. Kate Walsh, head of the of the Sexual Violence Research Initiative, has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crimes, to expand sexual assault services on the UW-Madison campus.