Tuesday, 28 September 2021
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
119. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the measures that are being taken to identify and support social housing recipients and applicants along with their families who find themselves in difficult domestic violence situations; the training that is being provided to both public and private housing associations and local authority staff to ensure that these persons are being dealt with appropriately given the various situations that can arise from domestic violence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46422/21]
Responsibility for the development and provision of services to support victims of domestic violence rests with my colleague the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and I understand that the delivery of these services is managed by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.
In terms of social housing services, in 2017, my Department issued policy and procedural guidance to housing authorities relating to the role they can play to assist victims of domestic violence. The guidance is also a useful reference for service providers, highlighting where they can be of greatest assistance to their clients, covering a range of scenarios that may arise for victims of domestic violence currently in receipt of social housing support and those seeking social housing supports. These include provisions around the use of the Housing Assistance Payment scheme, or the Rental Accommodation Scheme, where a victim has a joint interest in the family home, or ownership of alternative accommodation, but would otherwise qualify for social housing support.
In addition, where a victim of domestic violence applies for social housing support in their own right while still a joint tenant, it is a matter for the relevant local authority to address the contractual issues arising in relation to the joint tenancy agreement. Accordingly, the household may transfer out of their existing tenancy and into a new tenancy agreement with the local authority or they may access an independent tenancy in the private rented sector utilising the various housing supports offered by the State.
The guidance was introduced with the objective of supporting a partnership approach by statutory agencies in respect of the delivery of domestic violence services, particularly in relation to helping to prevent and reduce the occurrence of related homelessness and facilitating the provision of long term accommodation for victims of domestic violence.
In addition to the above supports, it should be noted that a new protocol was established in 2020 between the Department of Social Protection and Tusla whereby a victim of domestic violence can apply for Rent Supplement on referral by Tusla or by Tusla-funded service providers.
My Department provides capital funding under the Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS) for a range of important and emerging areas of housing need and this includes funding for refuges for victims of Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence.
Training is not directly provided by my Department but it is provided by a range of organisations in the sector, including for example, the Irish Council for Social Housing.