The Whole Housing Approach (WHA) endeavours to improve the housing options and outcomes for people experiencing domestic abuse so that they can achieve stable housing, live safely and overcome the abuse and its harmful impacts.

Scroll down to find out about Whole Housing Approach principles or follow the sidebar menu to read about our pilot project! 


What is the Whole Housing Approach?

Its mission is to:

  • Improve access to safe and stable housing across all housing tenure types (social, private rented and private ownership). It considers the need for move on options from refuges, supported accommodation and any other type of temporary accommodation and;

  • Ensure access to a range of housing options and initiatives tailored for domestic abuse to give choice for people experiencing domestic abuse to relocate or remain in their existing accommodation.

Its key aims are to:

  • Create earlier identification and intervention for domestic abuse through mobilising social and private landlords and key institutions involved in private ownership

  • Reduce the number of people who are made homeless as a result of domestic abuse

  • Increase tenancy sustainment options so that people experiencing domestic abuse can remain safely in their home when it is their choice to do so or do not lose their tenancy status if they relocate. This includes social housing landlords taking action to remove perpetrators from properties through enforcement and positive engagement activities.

The diagram below illustrates the model and its twelve components. The bright green circles represent different forms of accommodation including the three main tenure types (social, private rented and private ownership) and temporary accommodation settings (refuges, supported accommodation). The dark blue circles are the housing options and specialist domestic abuse services designed to provide safe and stable housing which allow victim/survivors to either remain in their property or relocate to new accommodation.

The twelve WHA components can be organised into three main themes:

Tenure and accommodation type

There are three main tenure and accommodation types including social housing, private rented and privately owned. The funded project focused on work at the second tier with national and local stakeholders to tackle system and policy issues faced by victim/survivors in these tenures.

Responses in social housing are the most established however practices are inconsistent across providers and this means that victim/survivors are not receiving a consistent, safe and quality response across England.

Supported or sheltered accommodation is a form of social housing and is an area that is increasingly considering how it responds to domestic abuse. The Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) offers an accreditation process and standards, which enables providers to establish responses within their own organisation and in partnership with others that is rooted in best practice.

The private rented sector (PRS) and privately owned housing (POH) contexts and initiatives required are being explored for the first time with a dedicated project lead. This work has highlighted the challenges and barriers victim/survivors face in these tenures.

Supported and sheltered housing was not a funded part of the project and as a result did not have a dedicated project lead. Despite that, dedicated responses to domestic abuse exist and are covered in this toolkit.

Specialist domestic abuse service provision

This delivered by an expert specialist domestic abuse services. The provision of specialist domestic abuse support is essential for the effective development, implementation and delivery of all aspects of the Whole Housing Approach and local areas must work in partnership with their local specialist domestic abuse services to deliver this.

The support they offer may be connected to the offer of accommodation; such as refuge services or Move On accommodation. It may also be a community-based services such as the mobile advocacy and co-located advocacy. The latter includes a dedicated post co-located in a housing service.

Flexible Funding is a new initiative that offers funds to secure safe housing and is offered alongside specialist domestic abuse services. The first Housing First model for women experiencing homelessness and domestic abuse was delivered by Jigsaw (now Threshold) and is now being delivered for the first time by a specialist domestic abuse service.

A suite of housing options 

These are specific to domestic abuse and includes the Sanctuary Scheme, Reciprocal Scheme and Perpetrator Management. Some of these initiatives, like the Sanctuary Scheme are well established and have been offered by local authorities and housing providers for several years. Others, like the reciprocal scheme and perpetrator management will be new to some areas.

These options are responsive to the needs identified for securing safe accommodation and require the involvement of a specialist domestic abuse service in order to be delivered most effectively.