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22 May 2020

Glass Door has signed a joint letter to Dame Louise Casey urging the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to prioritise safe housing and support for women and survivors of domestic violence who are self-isolating in hotel rooms.

You can download the letter as a PDF and read the following key messages and recommendations from the letter below:

"Evidence and experience show that the majority of homeless women are survivors of domestic abuse and other forms of VAWG. A 2018 evidence review by the University of York found that “experience of domestic violence and abuse is near-universal among women who become homeless”.

In response to ongoing risks to their safety, survivors will often take steps to hide themselves while sleeping rough or rely on unsafe hidden homeless arrangements with family, friends or partners, including perpetrators of abuse.

"Much of the work to protect and support homeless women and survivors as they move on from hotels and other emergency accommodation will fall to local authorities, combined authorities, and homelessness charities. However, we urge the taskforce, Ministers and officials to provide strong leadership, guidance and sufficient resources to support the following recommendations:

- Involve the Domestic Abuse Commissioner and specialist Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) agencies in planning move-on accommodation and support for women and survivors, and issuing specific guidance to local authorities.

Keep emergency hotels and other accommodation open for as long as it takes to safely house everyone. No survivor should be forced out of emergency accommodation without an offer of suitable alternative housing and appropriate support.

- Provide more accommodation for women facing multiple disadvantage. This will mean urgently increasing funding for specialist refuges that can house survivors with mental health and substance use issues, Housing First for women, floating support and supported housing services. Women-only services and spaces should be available in every local area.

Fund specialist VAWG agencies to provide community support to help survivors facing multiple disadvantage stay safe, including survivors living with mental health and substance use problems, and those who are street homeless.

- Develop safe accommodation and support options for homeless couples currently isolating together in emergency accommodation, at increased risk from domestic abuse. The taskforce may wish to draw on the recently published Homeless Couples and Relationships Toolkit published by St Mungo’s in March 2020, as well as ground-breaking research by Homeless Link and Brighton Women’s Centre.

- Where survivors in couples choose to leave a relationship, local authorities should work with specialist domestic abuse agencies to accommodate perpetrators as well as survivors, to prevent the perpetrator returning to rough sleeping or to the survivor’s accommodation. Funds should be made available to support this.

Provide sufficient funding and flexibility from central government to ensure that people who are subject to No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) conditions - or are otherwise not entitled to welfare benefits and homelessness assistance in the UK - do not return to the streets or to their abusers, to the detriment of the government’s commitments to end rough sleeping and tackle violence against women and girls.

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