DOMESTIC violence survivors can now access vital rent supplement without a means test, thanks to Bantry-based West Cork Women Against Violence.
In a new departure, Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphries announced plans to make the domestic violence rent supplement a permanent feature of housing supports.
The supplement was an initiative developed during the first lockdown in 2020 when it became clear that there was a greater need to find a way to fast track housing payment supports for women seeking to escape domestic violence.
The initial idea came from West Cork Women Against Violence.
In a phone call to Eoin Ó Broin, housing spokesperson for Sinn Fein, the group’s coordinator Marie Mulholland explained what she felt was needed and Deputy Ó Broin discussed with her how it might be practically developed and pursued.
WCWAV then spoke to their sister organisations in Safe Ireland who took on an extensive lobbying campaign for the fast track payment, (liaising with Deputy Ó Broin who advised and supported throughout), and later with the Department of Social Protection.
The financial support was introduced on a three-month trial period in 2020 and then extended for another three months.
However, after an evaluation of its impact and effectiveness, it has now been made a permanent support for eligible clients of domestic violence services. Its main requirement is a letter of advocacy from a domestic violence service to access the payment.
Marie said: ‘If anything, what the success of the DV rent supplement demonstrates is the effectiveness of genuine collaboration to find solutions to real need.’
Minister Humphreys said it was a ‘valuable support for people who endure what can be a silent and terrifying experience.’
In the period to August 2020 to September 2021, 144 victims of domestic violence availed of the rent supplement measure.