Congress Keeps the Lights On, Reauthorizes VAWA
Congress passed the FY 2022 spending package last night. The bill contains significant federal investments in housing and civil rights, and includes a historic reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). With the President’s signature, this massive package will fully fund the federal government and expand protections for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence.
The spending bill increased HUD funding by $4 billion with moderate increases to most programs, and USDA’s housing programs also received modest increases. The included reauthorization of VAWA contains minor housing spending, and, importantly, improves current law and establishes a new office and director to oversee implementation of the full VAWA housing title. Following are a few highlights from both.
- Adds 25,000 incremental vouchers for households experiencing or at risk for homelessness, survivors, and veterans;
- Funds all existing Housing Choice Voucher and Project-Based Rental Assistance contracts;
- Doubles a new HUD grant program for providing legal assistance for tenants facing eviction – an increase of $20 million through 2024;
- Increases rural housing voucher funding and eligibility from $40 million (previously only available to tenants in properties where Section 515 loans are prepaid) to $45 million (with eligibility to all properties whose mortgages have matured or otherwise been paid in full).
- Establishes within HUD a Gender-Based Violence Prevention Office with a VAWA Director who will oversee the implementation of the VAWA housing title within HUD, in coordination with other federal agencies;
- Protects the rights of survivors to report crime and emergencies from their homes without fear of punishment or eviction;
- Expands the current definition of homelessness to reflect accurately the experiences and realities of sexual assault survivors;
- Provides for VAWA housing related training and technical assistance;
- Creates a review process of covered housing providers’ compliance with VAWA to improve implementation of the Act’s existing protections.
NHLP is proud to have worked closely with the Housing Justice Network, organizers and tenant advocates, and other national partners to secure these investments and protections. And now the work of implementation begins! We are committed to holding federal agencies accountable for expanding the reach and oversight of their programs; securing even greater increases for spending in FY 2023; and ensuring that all tenants have access to decent, safe, and affordable housing.
The National Housing Law Project is dedicated to advancing housing justice for poor people and communities. NHLP achieves this by strengthening and enforcing the rights of tenants, increasing housing opportunities for underserved communities, and preserving and expanding the nation’s supply of safe and affordable homes.