The housing situation for domestic abuse victims has been called into question by one MHK.

David Ashford asked what long term housing options are available to families and partners seeking to leave an abusive relationship.

Chris Thomas, the chair of the housing and communities board, said that there is now a homelessness strategy.

This he said ‘is the basis for the work of the partnership that’s been established between the third sector and various parts of government to improve the immediate response, as well as the transition from immediate response into longer term housing situations.

He added that the Department of Home Affairs is working very closely with other people, including the Department of Infrastructure on the implementation plan for the domestic abuse act.

‘The work in that area includes ensuring services such as housing for victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse.

He added: ‘An important aspect of the domestic abuse act is that the perpetrator can be removed from the property if they receive a domestic abuse protection order, meaning the victim can and indeed should stay in the family home.

‘Additionally grant funding is provided by the department of Health and Social Care to Women’s Refuge for the provision of a safe place for women and children threatened by emotional or physical abuse.

‘As well as this there are other third sector organisations, such as Victim Support and Housing Matters, who can help guide an individual who requires ongoing support.’

Mr Ashford questioned whether the measures outlined would be able to support victims of emotional abuse, as domestic abuse protection orders in these instances are often temporary.

Mr Thomas said in those cases victims should speak to the police or the Department of Home Affairs.