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February 28, 2013: NHLP Applauds Housing Protections in VAWA Reauthorization

NHLP applauds the House for passing the Senate’s version of the Violence Against Women Authorization Act, S. 47, which will extend protections to victims on tribal land as well as LGBT and immigrant survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. The bill will add crucial housing protections for which NHLP and others have long and strongly advocated.

On February 28, 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act with bipartisan support. The legislation passed on a vote of 286 to 138.

Currently, VAWA applies to applicants and participants in the public housing, project-based Section 8 and Section 8 voucher programs. The law further protects survivors of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking from being evicted or denied housing assistance based on acts of violence committed against them. S. 47 would increase the number of survivors who are covered by VAWA’s housing protections by extending VAWA’s existing protections to sexual assault survivors and extending VAWA’s coverage to the Rural Development housing programs and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program. Adding these programs would cover more than four million housing units that are not included in the existing law.

In addition, S. 47 expands the rights of survivors who need to relocate for safety and requires public housing agencies (PHAs) and subsidized owners to notify applicants and tenants about their housing rights under VAWA. Specifically, the bill would require PHAs and subsidized owners and managers to adopt an emergency transfer policy for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking.

The legislation would also mandate that PHAs and subsidized owners provide notice of VAWA housing rights at the time an individual applies for a unit, at the time an individual is admitted to a unit, and with any notification of eviction or termination of assistance. Currently, many tenants fail to assert their VAWA protections because there is no requirement that a PHA or owner include information about VAWA in eviction or termination notices.

For more information see our Attorney/Advocate Resource Center.

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