The Price of Safety: How the housing system is failing women and children fleeing domestic abuse

Solace Women’s Aid has conducted research into the housing pathways of women and children survivors of domestic abuse who have come through Solace refuges. This research highlights systemic unfairness and discrimination against women and children fleeing domestic abuse in London.

Our research shows that many perpetrators of domestic abuse remain in the family home whilst survivors and their children are forced to move frequently between temporary and often unsuitable housing resulting in increased financial cost and poor recovery from the original trauma women and children experienced in the family home. The impact of such numerous moves throughout the survivor journey can be far reaching: children moving school many times; survivor’s unable to establish new friendships and networks, find work or continue with training and education; financial instability and forced reliance on welfare benefits.

Of the 121 women who came into and exited the Solace refuges in 2015, 22% had a secure tenancy on arrival whilst only 13% had a secure tenancy on departure. However some women arrived without a tenancy and gained a tenancy on leaving the refuge. 87% of women left the emergency shared accommodation provided in refuges for continued emergency temporary accommodation.

Our recommendations

  • Survivors with secure tenancy status at the time of fleeing domestic abuse maintain their status after fleeing. Therefore a pan London process should be put in place to ensure this happens consistently in all cases.
  • A secure and consistent pathway for women fleeing domestic abuse into refuge and onto secure accommodation
  • All Social Landlords should adopt a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to dealing with perpetrators who are tenants and use all available civil and criminal powers to remove them from the property.
  • All Social Landlords should be required to train staff in good practice to ensure they identify and effectively support those experiencing domestic abuse.