Victims of domestic violence in Kildare need accommodation

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There is not enough accommodation in Kildare to meet the needs of victims of domestic violence.

A range of politicians are pushing for Kildare County Council to work with domestic violence service providers to develop a system of allocating a number of specific units across the county.

The 13 advisers from many parties said these would be used as transitional accommodation units for “families seeking to escape situations of domestic violence”.

They want the housing policy to be changed to take account of the “exceptional needs” of applicants for accommodation in reception centres.

Cllr Ciara Galvin told a KCC meeting on December 21 that there was a lack of rental accommodation for these victims and Cllr Peggy O’Dwyer said finding a solution would require KCC to “think outside the box”.

Cllr Ciara Galvin said people cannot stay in emergency accommodation indefinitely.

“We need set-back housing and part of our housing stock would be dedicated to that,” she added.

Cllr Peter Hamilton said there should be a support system in place with other agencies.

Five years ago, KCC official Annette Aspell reported, the Department of Housing issued guidance to all local authorities covering the issue.

She said housing authorities play an important role for victims in relation to emergency accommodation needs, but also in presenting homelessness by addressing long-term accommodation needs.

However, this is mainly limited to supporting households that qualify for social housing support and ensuring that those eligible for such support are properly assessed.

The meeting also learned that funds are available for approved housing organizations to meet the needs of victims and that these plans need to be developed with Tusla (the child and family agency) who need to confirm that support was provided.

A report adopted by three local authorities, including Kildare, has shown that domestic violence is one of the main factors contributing to homelessness in this county.

Ms Aspell said the focus was on prevention – to avoid placement in emergency accommodation in the first place.

When a victim contacts KCC, it is best practice to seek help from a specialist domestic violence service so that care needs can be met.

Victims may also have other needs such as medical assistance.

Bed and breakfasts and hotels are considered when victims cannot return home due to violence and this is done without assessing eligibility for social housing benefits.

If long-term housing is required, a social housing assessment is required.

Although the municipality cannot have unused housing on standby for newly qualified households, other support payments are provided which can be used for private rental housing.

Ms Aspell said Teach Tearmainn, who provide support including emergency accommodation locally, stressed the need for progressive accommodation and their preference is to provide it themselves. She said Tusla should also be engaged as they will be providing funding through the HSE.

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