The Strangford MLA was speaking after meeting Housing Executive CEO Grainia Long alongside Alliance colleagues to discuss how progress was being made within housing policy to support victims of domestic abuse.
Under the current housing system, the victim has to be leave if it is not safe or possible to continuing to live at the home. The Housing Executive will work with the victim and allocate housing points towards a new tenancy. Victims include people who have been subjected to physical and non-physical abuse.
If the victim wishes or needs to stay in the home with the perpetrator, the Housing Executive will implement the Sanctuary Scheme to develop a secure space in the home. However, if the victim wants to the perpetrator to leave the home, they have to take private legal action.
“We need to see a more victim-centred approach when it comes to domestic violence,” said Ms Armstrong.
“The perpetrator should be the person to leave the home in such cases, if the victim wishes to continue living there. Where a perpetrator controls tenancy, there needs to be the ability for the tenancy to be legally transferred to the victim.
“The Housing Executive currently does not have those powers, so we need to see a legal framework established where all statutory partners – the Housing Executive, PSNI and other agencies – are able to work together to protect people from violence, physical or otherwise, and especially within the home.
“Prioritising the elimination of violence against women, girls and men through a multi-agency, cross-Departmental approach will remove the barriers to a real and lasting societal change.”
If you need help please call 999 in an emergency or 101 to report an incident. You can also call the 24-hour helpline on 0808 802 1414.