Housing is a critical issue for those fleeing abusive homes and relationships. Yet domestic and sexual abuse survivors frequently experience poor and/or unlawful treatment from local-authority homelessness services.

Housing officers routinely disbelieve survivors’ accounts or provide inaccurate or inadequate advice about rights and options. Local-authority decision making is often based on preconceived ideas and a poor understanding of Violence Against Women and Girls. The deliberate and unlawful ‘gatekeeping’ of statutory support by local authorities endangers the lives of women experiencing abuse.

Since 2019 PILC has been funded by the Baring Foundation to defend and enforce the rights of those escaping sexual and domestic abuse. Through our Domestic Abuse Hub we are working to:

  • strengthen the capacity of the voluntary sector to support survivors of sexual and domestic abuse by providing second-tier advice, training and legal representation;
  • develop strategic legal action to defend and enforce the housing rights of those escaping sexual and domestic abuse; and
  • empower survivors and activists to take action around domestic abuse

In December 2021 we launched the Domestic Abuse and Housing Forum (DAHF) with the aim of bring together lawyers, frontline workers and campaigners to challenge local-authority gatekeeping in relation to survivors of domestic abuse.

In early 2022 we were awarded two further grants to continue and develop our strategic work to support survivors of domestic violence. PILC and Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS) were awarded a grant from the Strategic Legal Fund to undertake pre-litigation research into the government’s failure to provide migrant survivors of domestic abuse with access to safe accommodation.

We have also been awarded a new grant from the Baring Foundation. This will enable us to scale and expand our work offering training, legal representation and strategic litigation at the intersection of housing, domestic abuse and racial justice. Through this project we will work with LAWRS, Ashiana Network and other specialist domestic-abuse organisations for black, minoritised and migrant women and girls.