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Housing-related provisions of the Reauthorized VAWA

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Housing-related provisions of the Reauthorized VAWA
Issue 30, Winter 2006

Housing-related provisions of the Reauthorized VAWA

by Jim Schaafsma, MPLP Housing Law Attorney

On January 5, President Bush signed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (H.R. 3402; http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c109:6:./temp/~c109rkA9FA::). It contains several housing related provisions (in Title VI of the Act, Subtitle N) that, among other positive steps, provide additional protection for "victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking" (hereinafter, "dv survivors") living in or seeking admission to HUD assisted housing (Sections 606 and 607) .

Here's a summary of the housing related provisions.

The "Findings" that precede the substantive provisions note the strong link between domestic violence and homelessness, the widespread denial of access to and eviction from HUD assisted housing to women and families because of their status as dv survivors, and the lack of emergency and long-term housing opportunities for dv survivors.

The stated "Purpose" of Subtitle N is to reduce domestic violence and to prevent homelessness by:

protecting the safety of dv survivors in all types of housing and ensuring that they have access to the criminal justice system without jeopardizing their housing;

to create long term housing solutions (that provide "sustainable living solutions") for dv survivors;

to build collaborations among victim service providers that address the housing needs of dv survivors;

and enable HUD assisted landlords to "respond appropriately to domestic violence…while maintaining a safe environment for all housing residents."

Section 606 (amending Section 8 of the U.S. Housing Act, at 42 USC 1437f) — for purposes of the Section 8 housing programs (voucher and project-based), prohibits a PHA or private owner from:

denying admission to an applicant based on being a dv survivor;

treating an incident of actual or threatened dv as a serious or repeated violation of the lease by the survivor, or as good cause to terminating assistance or a tenancy;

in evictions or terminations not premised on acts of domestic violence, subjecting a dv survivor "to a more demanding standard than other tenants in determining whether to evict or terminate".

This section allows PHAs and owners to:

"bifurcate" a lease to evict or terminate assistance to a resident who commits criminal acts of physical violence against family members or others, without evicting , terminating assistance to, or "otherwise penalizing the victim of such violence " who are residents;

honor court orders, including PPOs issues to protect victims and to address the distribution or possession of property in the case of a family break up;

evict or terminate assistance to any resident if it can show "an actual and imminent threat" to other tenants or employees if the resident is not evicted [this provision is probably the most potentially problematic piece of the subtitle]

request certification (on a HUD approved form) that a person is a dv victim, and about specific dv incidents.

Section 607 (amending Section 6 of the U.S. Housing Act, at 42 USC 1437d) — essentially repeats the Section 606 provisions, for purposes of the public housing program.

Section 602 (amending 42 USC 13975) — provides $40 million annually (subject to appropriations) annually for grants to providers of transitional housing for dv survivors.

Section 603 (amending the U.S. Housing Act, at 42 USC 1437c-1) — requires public housing agencies (PHAs) as part of the public housing planning process to include in their 5 year PHA Plans a statement of the "goals, objectives, policies, or programs that will enable" them to serve the needs of dv survivors. A PHA's annual plan must now describe "any activities, services, or programs" provided directly or in partnership with other service providers to dv survivors, specifically those that help them obtain or maintain housing, or prevent domestic violence or enhance survivor safety.

Section 604 (amending the National Affordable Housing Act, at 42 USC 12705) — requires that in the comprehensive housing affordability strategies (CHAS) that state and local governments seeking HUD funding must create, they identify the housing needs of dv survivors.

Section 605 (amending the McKinney Homeless Assistance Act, at 42 USC 11383) — instructs any "victim service provider" that receives federal homeless assistance funding to not disclose, for purposes of a Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), "personally identifying information" about any client (includes name, address, contact information, SSN # )

Section 41404 authorizes HHS and HUD to award grants up to $10 million annually (subject to appropriations) to "entities to develop long-term sustainability and self-sufficiency options" for dv survivors who are homeless or at risk for becoming so.

Section 41405 authorizes the DOJ, along with HHS and HUD, to award grants of up to $10 million annually (subject to appropriations) to HUD assisted housing providers "to promote the full and equal access to and use of housing" by dv survivors.

For more comprehensive information about the VAWA reauthorization, visit http://www.vawa2005.org/

 


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