Written answers

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government

Domestic Violence Policy

Photo of John CurranJohn Curran (Dublin Mid West, Fianna Fail)
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238. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government if the recommendations by Cosc and Women's Aid that local authorities make special provision in their scheme of lettings for women out of home due to domestic violence have been implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31959/16]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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I am aware that there have been calls to prioritise victims of domestic violence in the allocation schemes (formerly known as "schemes of letting priorities") of local authorities.

The allocation of social housing support to qualified households is a matter for individual housing authorities in accordance with their allocation schemes made under section 22 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009. Each housing authority is required to make an allocation scheme specifying, among other things, the manner of, and the order of priority for, the allocation of dwellings to households and classes of households on the waiting list. Allocation schemes may also contain provisions for exceptional or emergency cases, allowing immediate housing outside of normal waiting list priorities, should circumstances warrant it.

Victims of domestic violence who seek emergency accommodation from a housing authority are generally placed in temporary accommodation which the council itself arranges or which is operated by a voluntary service provider. It is not necessary for such persons to go on the general housing waiting list to avail of short-term emergency housing. Such support can be provided where victims of domestic violence meet the homeless definition set out in the Housing Act 1988, which is not prescriptive and in practice will generally include victims of domestic violence.

Where victims of domestic violence need continued State support to meet their housing needs, housing authorities are encouraged to work with all service providers to ensure that a victim's housing eligibility and need is assessed in a timely manner. This assessment is carried out in accordance with section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and associated Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011, which includes a review of the suitability of the household's current accommodation having regard to "particular household circumstances" or "exceptional medical or compassionate grounds". This allows a housing authority to consider a victim of domestic violence as having a housing need and place her (or him) on a housing list.

My Department continues to liaise with Cosc in relation to the implementation of the second national strategy on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence. While there is no proposal to redefine victims of domestic violence as a specific category of prioritised housing need, Rebuilding Ireland: An Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, which was published on 19 July 2016, commits to the development and publication of procedural guidance for housing authorities with regard to the role they can play to assist victims of domestic violence in securing new independent tenancies. It is expected that this will be published before the end of the year.


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