The unprecedented crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought into the limelight what many have unfortunately already known to be true, that times of extreme change, urgency, and tension too often correlate to a rise in domestic violence. This thesis attempts to address this recent amplification of cruelty, and how it has manifested in the largest public housing agency in North America, NYCHA (the New York City Housing Authority), to advocate for an interdisciplinary reform of both policy and design of shelters that use care to encourage nonviolent, inclusive environments and access to healing.
In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified conditions that already exist within the realm of domestic violence, including but not limited to isolation, economic insecurity, and trauma. Through an exploration of these connections, as well as a critique of the existing conditions of housing and emergency sheltering in New York City that allow domestic violence to thrive, this thesis provides way to address the current crisis while also preventing future instances of violence by centering the shelter as a community. This rethinking, coupled with comprehensive policy-driven solutions aimed at preventing violence and repetitive abuse, can not only reduce the risk of continued harm, but foster an environment where survivors can focus on rebuilding and recovery.