July 2022 Member Spotlight: Human Options

In 1981, four remarkable women founded Human Options and gave life to a vision that no woman or child would ever be afraid in their own home. Forty years later, the organization leads the way at the center of a collective county-wide response in service of those threatened by abuse in Orange County. Since opening their doors, Human Options has impacted the lives of more than 500,000 individuals affected by relationship violence. 

Emergency Shelter 

Human Option’s emergency shelter is for any individual or family in a domestic violence situation seeking shelter. In 2018, their shelter served 343 adults and children. 

Each family has their own room and women without children may share a room. Women and their children are provided the opportunity to receive individual counseling from a skilled therapist, participate in group counseling and therapeutic sessions, and work with a case manager to navigate available services in route to discovering a way forward. Legal advocacy services are also available. Children of all ages participate in the children’s program where they receive age-appropriate counseling and therapeutic activities. 

Transitional Housing 

Women and their children who have completed a domestic violence shelter program can apply for Second Step, their transitional housing program. There, women regain their independence by participating in educational and job skill building activities as well as continuing counseling and case management sessions. Children can participate in the children’s programs and have access to after school tutoring. In 2018, 94% of transitional clients gained permanent housing and 80% increased their income. 

Vision: Human Options is committed to a future in which every person and family in Orange County experiences safe, healthy relationships and lives free of fear. 

Mission: Human Options ignites social change by educating Orange County to recognize relationship violence as an issue that threatens everyone, advocating for those affected by abuse, extending a safe place for victims and empowering survivors on their journey of healing. 

Counseling /Supportive Services/Personal Empowerment Program (PEP) 

Their counseling and supportive services provide intervention for men, women, and children who are survivors of domestic violence or who are currently in an abusive relationship. Any individual affected by domestic violence in Orange County, or the surrounding area may have access to counseling, legal advocacy, education, or support groups. 


We asked Human Options a few questions about their philosophies and strategies, here is what they had to share:  

Share an innovative approach you have used to prevent and solve family homelessness:  

Just this past year, 2021, Human Options was awarded a contract to lead the first ever Coordinated Entry System (CES) in the county to grant Emergency Housing Vouchers- bringing much needed housing resources to domestic violence victims. This is a new addition to the Housing First Model that will quickly improve living situations by giving immediate financial help to unhoused or at-risk for being unhoused residents. 

How has your agency reduced barriers for families to access services and what did you learn in the process?  

A huge reason for the success of families in their shelter or residential programs is the emphasis we put on healthy parenting skills in combination with their children’s program, which help guide and socialize children. Additionally, their spaces allow for private and shared rooms amongst family members. They have learned that to ensure clients are able to obtain and maintain housing, they must feel like they have the freedom of having a restful space.  

How does your agency outwardly demonstrate your commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in the programs and services you provide?  

Although domestic violence statistically affects females at a higher percentage, they make sure that all their public information never claims to only serve a single group- their services are available to anyone experiencing domestic violence. Additionally, their front-facing staff who engage with the community at various levels reflect the makeup of the clients they serve. Clients and community members are not only able to see themselves in their organization but can also communicate in the languages they prefer as they offer the options to do so. 

Share ways in which your agencies use Diversion/Problem-Solving strategies to help resolve family homeless? 

Human Options recognizes that resolving family homelessness (particularly for survivors of domestic violence) calls for flexibility and client-specific options and problem solving. As such, we assess every client who calls their hotline or walks through our doors for which of our myriad of housing and residential services will best support them. For some survivors, their may mean a stay in their Emergency Shelter, but for others, it may mean financial assistance to stay in their current home (coupled with safety planning and case management resources). For others, it may mean assisting them in obtaining a housing voucher, and connection to partner to assist with finding a new apartment of their own. Regardless of where and how they are accessing services, Human Options is committed to offering all their clients the supportive services they need to find or maintain safe housing—including counseling, legal advocacy, case management, empowerment classes, and more. 

What is your one sentence for how your agency visions ending family homelessness?  

We are committed to future in which every person and family lives free from fear.