A report published by the organization Movement for Housing (“Lëvizja për Strehim”) shows that the Municipality of Tirana is failing to provide long-term housing to women granted restraining orders.
Victims of domestic violence–and especially single parents and women who have been granted restraining orders—are a protected category under Albanian law. This allows them to benefit from priority status when applying for social housing programs, as specified by the Law on Housing.
Parliament passed the new Law on Housing in 2018, aiming to simplify and shorten procedures for unhoused people to receive soft loans or rent bonuses.
However, the government has granted municipal councils the power to decide how the law will be applied to these protected categories.
The criteria established by the Municipality of Tirana for citizens to access such benefits follows a “one-size-fits-all” approach. According to the Movement for Housing, this approach fails to take into account the specific needs and constraints faced by women who have been victims of domestic violence.
Per the organization’s report, between 2016 and 2020, only 22 women protected by restraining orders applied to receive rent bonuses and 20 were granted them.
The report shows a clear mismatch between the growing number of applications for restraining orders, and applications for housing assistance. According to the Movement for Housing, this discrepancy is due both to lack of information, and the set of complex procedures required to apply for relief. Applicants must file dozens of documents to prove their financial and social situation, in addition to finding a cooperative landlord willing to sign a government-backed rental agreement.
In certain instances, as was the case with the municipality of Shkodra, local government will add extra requirements not foreseen by the law.
The Movement for Housing argues that the municipality of Tirana displays a lack of commitment to helping victims of domestic violence find long-term housing.
Women who are granted a restraining order receive a monthly stipend of 3,000 lek (€ 24) and temporary housing in two cash-strapped social centers managed by local NGOs.
The Movement for Housing argues that housing uncertainty is among the factors contributing to the low number of women who denounce their abusers and leave violent homes. In response, they recommend that all women protected by restraining orders be granted automatic access to housing assistance and provided a package of services to cover their needs and expenses.