One in five women who suffer violence will also experience homelessness compared to just one in a hundred who have no experience of violence, according to national data, and yet homelessness services do not currently reflect these women’s needs.
Based on research published by the Centre for Homelessness Impact (CHI) and the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) call for responses to women experiencing homelessness and violence, to be “gender informed.” This means that services provided by local councils and other bodies should be better tailored to meet the distinct experiences faced by women, such as trauma and anxiety.
In some cases, women who suffer violence are still being sent to mixed-sex accommodation, where they can feel unsafe and become retraumatised. Women say that they sometimes sleep rough or in other unsafe situations if they cannot access single-sex housing.
Core recommendations are:
- A more inclusive, housing-led response to women who have experienced homelessness and violence or at risk of doing so, that provides access to secure accommodation, through rapid rehousing or help to remain in their current home. This would be accompanied by appropriate support.
- The increased provision of women-only temporary accommodation
- New solutions to be developed and tested that support women experiencing violence to remain in their homes, while the perpetrator is moved away.
- Further development and testing of current innovative interventions, such as flexible financial support (currently a component of a small number of Housing First programmes), Sanctuary Schemes that provide additional security, and Making Safe, a multi-agency initiative in England that keeps women in their home and rehouses perpetrators for up to two years, providing tailored support to all parties.
- The development of a clear set of industry guidelines, akin to the NICE principles of care, for gender informed care, that are readily translatable into practice, and to which commissioned homelessness services are required to adhere.
- A shift of policy focus to preventative, rather than crisis-response approaches, including training and screening programmes, such as the Ask and Act programme that is active in Wales.