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The Effects of VAWA 2005 on Housing Law: An Explanation of Recent Changes South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center.

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Presentation on theme: "The Effects of VAWA 2005 on Housing Law: An Explanation of Recent Changes South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Effects of VAWA 2005 on Housing Law: An Explanation of Recent Changes South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center

2 About South Carolina Appleseed: The South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to advocacy for low- income people in South Carolina to effect systemic change by acting in and through the courts, the legislature, administrative agencies, the community and the media, and helping others do the same through education, training and co-counseling. To find out more about our organization, go to on thehttp://www.scjustice.org Internet.

3 Goals and Objectives: By the end of this presentation, you should: Have a general understanding of the housing provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), as recently reauthorized Understand a victims housing rights under the Act Understand the responsibilities of housing providers under the Act

4 Disclaimer: This presentation and the accompanying materials are for informational purposes only, and should not be considered legal advice to be applied to a specific legal problem. If you or your client have questions about a legal issue, should discuss the specific problem with a lawyer. South Carolina Legal Services (SCLS) helps individuals who are under a certain income level with many legal matters. SCLS can be contacted through the Legal Aid Telephone Intake Service at The South Carolina Bar Lawyer Referral Service can also help connect people with attorneys. The Lawyer Referral Service can be reached at

5 What is VAWA 2005? VAWA, or the Violence Against Women Act is a federal law that provides protection for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault VAWA was reauthorized in 2005, continuing the protections from the previous version of VAWA, as well as adding important new provisions VAWA 2005 was signed into law as Public Law in January 2006 The provisions of VAWA 2005 have now been codified in statutes

6 How does VAWA 2005 affect housing law? Title VI of VAWA 2005 is entitled Housing Opportunities and Safety for Battered Women and Children Title VI of VAWA 2005 contains seven sections specifically dealing with federal housing law These new sections provide additional protections for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking which are designed to help victims and their families maintain stable housing

7 How does VAWA 2005 affect housing law? These housing protections relate to rental housing, as opposed to homeownership. Specifically, the protections extend to tenants of public housing, Section 8 project-based housing, and the Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly known as the Section 8 Voucher program).

8 Why did Congress decide to address housing issues in VAWA 2005? Section 601 of VAWA 2005 addresses the findings of Congress that led to the inclusion of housing protections for victims of domestic violence in the Act Some of the key findings of Congress under the Act include: - That there is a strong link between domestic violence and homelessness - That 92 percent of homeless women have experienced severe physical or sexual abuse at some point in their lives

9 Why did Congress decide to address housing issues in VAWA 2005? - That of all homeless women and children, 60 percent had been abused by age 12, and 63 percent have been victims of intimate partner violence as adults -That nationwide, women and families are being discriminated against, decided access to, and evicted from public and subsidized housing because they are victims of domestic violence - That victims of domestic violence in rural areas face additional barriers and challenges

10 Why did Congress decide to address housing issues in VAWA 2005? -That the average stay at an emergency shelter is 60 days, while the average length of time it takes a homeless family to find housing is 6 to 10 months - That victims of domestic violence often return to abusive partners because they cannot find long-term housing or do not have the financial resources to obtain housing, or both - That there is not enough federal housing assistance to accommodate the need

11 Why did Congress decide to address housing issues in VAWA 2005? The provisions of Title VI of VAWA 2005 are an attempt by Congress to reduce domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and sexual assault and to prevent homelessness.

12 Who must comply with the housing provisions of VAWA 2005? Public housing agencies (PHAs) that administer federal public housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs and all landlords, owners, or managers participating in the Housing Choice Voucher program and Section 8 project-based programs must comply with the provisions of VAWA Private landlords do not have to comply with the terms of VAWA 2005 as long as their properties do not involve the federal programs covered in the Act.

13 What housing tenants are protected under VAWA 2005? Domestic Violence Victims Dating Violence Victims Stalking Victims Sexual Assault Victims (in very limited cases)

14 What housing tenants are protected under VAWA 2005? Victims of Domestic Violence - As defined in VAWA, Domestic Violence includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other adult person against a victim who is protected from that persons acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies. See 42 U.S.C. § 1437d(u)(3)(A)(2006); 42 U.S.C. § 1437f(f)(8) (2006); 42 U.S.C. § 13925(a)(6) (2006)

15 What housing tenants are protected under VAWA 2005? Victims of Dating Violence - As defined in VAWA, Dating violence is violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim, and where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors: the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. See 42 U.S.C. § 1437d(u)(3)(B)(2006); 42 U.S.C. § 1437f(f)(9) (2006); 42 U.S.C. § 13925(a)(8) (2006)

16 What housing tenants are protected under VAWA 2005? Victims of Stalking - As defined in VAWA, stalking means to follow, pursue, or repeatedly commit acts with the intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate; or to place under surveillance with the intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate another person; and in the course of or as a result of such following, pursuit, surveillance, or repeatedly committed acts, to place a person in reasonable fear of the death of, or serious bodily injury to, or to cause substantial emotional harm to: that person; a member of the immediate family of that person; or the spouse or intimate partner of that person. See 42 U.S.C. § 1437d(u)(3)(C)(2006); 42 U.S.C. § 1437f(f)(10) (2006)

17 What housing tenants are protected under VAWA 2005? Victims of Sexual Assault - As defined in VAWA, sexual assault means any conduct proscribed by chapter 109A of title 18, United States Code (e.g., sexual abuse, aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse of a minor), and includes both assaults committed by offenders who are strangers to the victim and assaults committed by offenders who are known or related by blood or marriage to the victim. (See 42 U.S.C. § 13925(a)(23) (2006)) Few provisions of VAWA 2005 (as relates to housing) apply to those who are solely victims of sexual assault.

18 Remember: One instance of domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking is enough to trigger the housing protections under VAWA 2005 The housing provisions of VAWA 2005 are superseded by state, local, and federal laws that give greater protections to domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking victims Protections under this title apply to victims and their immediate family members, defined as any person living with the victim and related to him or her by blood or marriage, or the victims spouse, parent, brother, sister, child or any other person to whom the victim stands in loco parentis.(42 U.S.C. § 1437d(u)(3)(D)(2006); 42 U.S.C. § 1437f(f)(11)(2006))

19 Remember: VAWA 2005 does not require a federal statutory preference on housing waiting lists for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking VAWA 2005 does not amend the Fair Housing Act to include domestic violence as a protected class However, sexual discrimination arguments can still be made as before under case law VAWA 2005 does not address eligibility for long-term housing for immigrant victims of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking However, all immigrants are eligible for HUD-funded emergency shelter and transitional housing, as well as eligible for federally funded emergency domestic violence shelter and transitional housing, regardless of citizenship status (See Fed. Reg (January 16, 2001)); (Letter from HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo to HUD Funds Recipients (Jan. 19, 2001))

20 We will now discuss the changes to public housing rules, Section 8 project-based housing rules, and Housing Choice Voucher program rules due to VAWA 2005 regarding: Admissions to Housing Lease Terminations Evictions

21 Admission to Housing Status as a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking is an inappropriate basis for denial of admission to housing or denial of housing assistance, if the person otherwise qualifies for admission (See 42 U.S.C. §§ 1437d(c)(3); 1437f(c)(9)(A); 1437f(d)(1)(A); 1437f(o)(B) (2006)) An applicants status as a victim does not guarantee admission or otherwise affect eligibility status

22 Lease Terminations Incidents of actual or threatened domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking cannot be considered serious or repeated violations of the lease, nor can they be considered good cause for terminating the assistance, tenancy, or occupancy rights of the victim (See 42 U.S.C. §§ 1437d; 1437f(c)(9); 1437f(d)(1)(B); 1437f(o)(7)(C); 1437f(o)(20)(A) (2006)) C riminal activity relating to domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking cannot be grounds for terminating a victims tenancy (See 42 U.S.C. §§ 1437d(l)( 6); 1437f(c)(9)(C); 1437f(d)(1)(C); 1437f(o)(7)(D); 1437f(o)(20)(B) (2006))

23 Lease Terminations The criminal activity of a victim unrelated to the domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking can still be used to evict the victim as long as the victim is not held to a higher or more demanding standard than other tenants who are not victims of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking Also, victims who pose an actual or imminent threat to other tenants, PHA employees, or those providing service to the property can still be evicted or have their assistance terminated

24 Evictions Leases can be bifurcated to evict or terminate the assistance of an abuser while allowing the victim to remain in the unit (See 42 U.S.C. §§ 1437d(l)( 6)(B); 1437f(c)(9)(C)(ii) and 1437f(d)(1)(B)(iii)(II) (2006)) PHAs and landlords must honor civil protection orders and court orders regarding the right to access or control the unit (See 42 U.S.C. §§ 1437d(l)( 6)(C); 1437f(o)(7)(D)(iii) and (o)(20)(D)(ii)); 1437f(c)(9)(C)(iii) and 1437f(d)(1)(B)(iii)(III) (2006))

25 Verification of Victim Status PHAs or landlords may ask the victim to provide documentation of the domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking (See 42 U.S.C. §1437d(u)(1)(D); 42 U.S.C §1437f(ee)(D) (2006)) Once asked for verification, the victim has 14 business days to provide the documentation after the request for verification is made in writing (See 42 U.S.C. § 1437d(u)(1)(A), (B); 42 U.S.C. § 1437f(ee)(1)(A),(B) (2006)) If the documentation is not provided, eviction proceedings can be initiated against the victim-tenant This deadline can be extended at the PHAs or landlords discretion

26 Verification of Victim Status Examples of documentation of the abuse under VAWA 2005 are: Victim Statements Police or Court Records Statements from certain professionals (including victim service providers) HUD-approved certification forms

27 Confidentiality of Documentation If a victim provides documentation of the victim status, the PHA or Section 8 landlord must keep the information confidential, including the individuals status as a victim The PHA or Section 8 landlord may not enter the information into any shared database or provide it to any related entity There are situations where exceptions apply and such information is not confidential (e.g., the victim requests or consents in writing to the release, etc.) (See 42 U.S.C. §§ 1437d(u)(2)(A); 1437f(ee)(2)(A) (2006))

28 What if a victim needs to move to get away from an abuser? VAWA 2005 addresses portability issues Under the Housing Choice Voucher Program, families with a voucher may move to another jurisdiction if the family has complied with all other obligations of the program and is moving to protect health or safety of an individual in the household who is or has been the victim of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking – even if moving otherwise would be lease violation. (See 42 U.S.C. § 1437f(r)(5) (2006) PHA may ask for documentation from the family regarding the familys desire to move to a new jurisdiction. (See 42 U.S.C. § 1437f(ee)(2006))

29 What if a victim needs to move to get away from an abuser? PHAs must notify Section 8 voucher tenants about portability changes to the voucher program to help victims escape domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking Under Public Housing, PHAs already have the discretion to adopt policies to help a victim move because of domestic violence The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has supported the adoption of these policies))

30 How will victims know about these new rights? Notice Requirements (See 42 U.S.C. §§ 1437d(l)(5), (6); 1437d(u)(2)(B); 1437f(c), (d); 1437f(o)(7)(C), (o)(7)(D), (o)(20); 1437f(ee)(2)(B) (2006)) PHAs must inform tenants of their new rights under the law They must also provide the information to property owners and managers of unit New information also must be included in the tenants Leases Housing assistance payment contracts Project-based Section 8 contracts

31 Local Housing Plans Federal law requires that PHAs include certain information about services, activities, and programs for victims in their local housing plans, as well as information about serving victims housing needs in their 5-year plans VAWA 2005 now requires that the housing needs of child and adult victims of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault be included in the HUD consolidated plan process plan (See 42 USC §12705(b)(1) (2006))

32 Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS) VAWA 2005 requires HUD to direct grantees who receive funds under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act not to enter personally identifying information into any shared databases like the HMIS This change is intended to protect victims of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault who are using these programs (See 42 U.S.C. §11383(a)(8) (2006))

33 New Grant Programs Under VAWA 2005 VAWA 2005 creates a new grant program (administered through the Office on Violence Against Women in the U.S. Department of Justice in conjunction with HUD and HHS) for PHAs to address domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault Recipients of the grant will discuss best practices, including non-discrimination and collaboration in planning, to address admissions and occupancy policies Grants will also be used to educate and train agency staff and develop improved housing admissions and occupancy policies Eligible entities include PHAs, tribally designated housing entities, most HUD-assisted providers Authorized at $10 million annually, but is obviously subject to annual appropriations

34 New Grant Programs Under VAWA 2005 VAWA 2005 creates a new grant program for collaboration in developing long-term housing stability for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault Funds collaborative local efforts to create long term housing stability for victims who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless Eligible entities include local housing, homeless, and victim service providers To be administered by HHS and is authorized at $10 million annually, subject to annual appropriations

35 Issues and Concerns Because HUD has not yet promulgated regulations explaining how PHAs should implement the new housing provisions of VAWA 2005, some PHAs are unclear how to properly implement the changes However, PHAs are responsible for implementing the changes immediately, as the effective date of the Act was the date of signing

36 Issues and Concerns Although funding is authorized for the new programs under VAWA 2005, appropriation of funds will be an issue. President Bushs FY 2007 proposed budget does not include full funding for VAWA programs.

37 Resources VAWA 2005 (Public Law ) - bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=109_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ pdf bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=109_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ pdf US Code - Department of Housing and Urban Development – The Impact of the Violence Against Women Act 2005 (VAWA) on the Housing Rights and Options of Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty -

38 Contact Information SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center P.O. Box 7187 Columbia, SC Voice: (803) Fax: (803)


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