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RD Revises VAWA Implementation in Response to NHLP Advocacy

On February 10, 2014, Rural Development (RD) issued an Administrative Notice (AN) to implement the 2013 amendments to the Violence Against Women Act. AN 4747 (1944-N). In June 2014, the National Housing Law Project, joined by 25 other organizations, sent a letter to the RD Housing Administrator advising him that there were some significant errors and omissions in the Administrative Notice and requesting that the agency correct them and republish the AN. On August 6, the agency responded to NHLP stating that it will republish the AN and will include all but one of the recommendations made in the letter. A copy of the letter to RD and its response are attached.

Specifically, RD agreed, consistent with VAWA, to expand its definition of persons eligible for assistance to include victims of dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. Second, it agreed to clarify that survivors need to meet only one of the two eligibility conditions to qualify for a transfer to another development. The AN had erroneously stated that both conditions had to be met. Third, RD acknowledged that survivors who seek to move from their current residence could move to any other housing covered by VAWA and were not restricted to RD multi-family housing as was set out in the original AN. In connection with that change, RD contacted both HUD and the IRS to ensure that they were aware of survivors’ right to transfer to HUD and IRS financed housing and that they should similarly advise survivors living in those agencies’ housing. Fourth, RD agreed to inform owners of RD housing as to the RD officials that survivors should contact to secure a Letter of Priority Entitlement to relocate to other RD housing.

The NHLP letter made a technical suggestion regarding the transfer and ultimate return of Rental Assistance subsidy when a survivor relocates to other housing in order to reduce the original owner’s reluctance to allow a survivor to transfer to other housing. RD declined to implement that suggestion stating that the survivor is entitled to transfer the Rental Assistance and that it would be returned to the original development when the survivor no longer uses the assistance. NHLP had suggested that in certain circumstances the Rental Assistance could be returned earlier.

While RD did not commit to a date certain when it will publish the revised AN, it is assumed that it will do so shortly.

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