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Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

 

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

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VAWA’s housing safeguards apply to survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking. These forms of violence (collectively called “VAWA violence/abuse”) are defined below.

Domestic Violence includes felony or misdemeanor crimes committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim under the family or domestic violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant funding and, in the case of victim services, includes the use or attempted use of physical abuse or sexual abuse, or a pattern of any other coercive behavior committed, enabled, or solicited to gain or maintain power and control over a victim, including verbal, psychological, economic, or technological abuse that may or may not constitute criminal behavior, by a person who —

(A) is a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, or person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim;
(B) is cohabitating, or has cohabitated, with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner;
(C) shares a child in common with the victim; or
(D) commits acts against a youth or adult victim who is protected from those acts under the family or domestic violence laws of the jurisdiction.


Dating violence means violence committed by a person—

(A) who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim; and
(B) where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors:
(i) The length of the relationship.
(ii) The type of relationship.
(iii) The frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.


Sexual Assault is any nonconsensual sexual act proscribed by Federal, tribal, or State law, including when the victim lacks capacity to consent.

Stalking means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to— (A) fear for his or her safety or the safety of others; or (B) suffer substantial emotional distress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

VAWA Cases

 

HUD's enforcement authority was expanded under the 2022 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act starting on October 1, 2022. Cases filed and/or resolved prior to that date may not account for this expanded enforcement authority.

The Voluntary Agreement stems from a limited compliance review initiated by HUD in November 2022 under Section 504 for Greenbriar Apartments, a 208-unit development in Tennessee owned by Alco Greenbriar Partners, LP, whose general partner is Alco Properties, Inc. The property is managed by Alco Management, Inc., which manages over 50 multifamily properties throughout the Southeast. The property receives Project Based Rental Assistance through HUD Multifamily Housing.

Following the limited compliance review, the Letter of Findings of Noncompliance was issued in April 2023, describing the housing providers’ effective denial of multiple reasonable accommodation or modification requests. HUD also uncovered instances of VAWA noncompliance involving households that experienced incidents of sexual assault and/or domestic violence. Two tenants requested VAWA emergency transfers and in both instances, the housing providers failed to provide the transfer or take any additional action needed to process the requests. Under the Voluntary Conciliation Agreement, the housing providers agree to pay the aggrieved parties $50,000 in monetary compensation. The housing providers will also amend its reasonable accommodation transfer log, revise the transfer policy, revise its VAWA policies, construct or convert ten UFAS-accessible units, with an additional four units for the hearing and visually impaired and accessible common areas, designate a VAWA Coordinator, respond to VAWA-related grievances and transfer requests within ten days, and attend VAWA training.


Read the Conciliation Agreement    VAWA Memo    Letter of Findings

 

HUD’s investigation found that a tenant who had a Housing Choice Voucher alleged that a Public Housing Agency in Nevada (“PHA”) and its Housing Specialist violated the complainant’s rights under VAWA when the complainant requested to relocate mid-lease as an emergency transfer after being stalked by a former partner. The complainant alleged that the housing provider demanded confusing and contradictory documentation that it was not permitted to request under VAWA, threatened to revoke the complainant’s voucher, denied her request to extend her voucher, and stopped paying its portion of the rent while the complainant prepared to move to protect her safety. HUD’s investigation indicated that the PHA’s policies and procedures did not comply with VAWA, including policies for documenting someone’s status as a VAWA survivor in general and, specifically, when an emergency transfer is requested. The PHA also lacked an emergency transfer plan, as required by VAWA. The agreement requires the housing provider to adopt and implement policies that comply with VAWA and will protect the VAWA rights of its applicants and residents, including that the PHA has an Emergency Transfer Plan that will allow survivors who qualify to move quickly without losing their assistance, to hire outside experts to provide VAWA training to staff, and to pay the complainant a monetary settlement.

 

A woman filed a complaint alleging that a housing management company in CA, which is a recipient of funds under the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (“HOME”) and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (“LIHTC”), and a property manager violated her rights under VAWA by denying her application due to a history of violations of the terms of previous rental agreements that were related to her status as a survivor of dating violence. Although the housing providers denied that the tenant disclosed her status as a dating violence survivor, they acknowledged that they failed to accompany the denial letter with any information about her rights under VAWA, as required by law, and that they did not advise her about how she might appeal the denial. Under the terms of the agreement, the housing providers will pay the complainant a monetary settlement, place her on the top of the waitlist for the next available unit at two properties, notify her in writing when such a unit becomes available, revise their policies and procedures to comply with VAWA and protect the VAWA rights of applicants and tenants, establish a VAWA Rights Coordinator to handle VAWA matters and compliance, and require their employees to complete VAWA training annually.

 

HUD-subsidized housing provider refused to renew a domestic violence survivor’s lease based on 911 calls made to report domestic violence. Housing provider agreed to pay $11,250 to the survivor, attend fair housing training, keep a record of vacancies and all rental applications (including reasons for rejection), modify lease and renewal procedures, and cooperate with HUD in future fair housing monitoring.

Read the Conciliation Agreement

 

Housing provider refused to rent a unit to the survivor because of past visits to her apartment from the police relating to domestic violence. Housing provider agreed to pay $2,300 to the survivor, attend fair housing training, keep a record of all rental applications (including reasons for denial), and cooperate with HUD in future fair housing monitoring.

Read the Conciliation Agreement

 

Housing provider refused to rent a unit to the survivor because she would not disclose her children’s Social Security Numbers due to domestic violence safety and privacy concerns. Housing provider agreed to pay $20,000 to the survivor, accept truncated Social Security Numbers, provide points of contact for housing availability, revise its policy to include VAWA protections and allow VAWA accommodations, allow those who were illegally denied housing due to VAWA protections to re-apply, display a HUD fair housing poster in the rental office, provide VAWA and fair housing training to staff, and cooperate with HUD in future fair housing monitoring.

Read the Conciliation Agreement

 

A domestic violence survivor was not allowed to testify during a hearing to remove her abuser from the lease. The housing authority agreed to issue a Notice of Proposed Decision to Terminate Assistance to the abuser and call complainant as a witness if a hearing was to be held, allow survivors to testify at future lease bifurcation hearings, and cooperate with HUD in future fair housing monitoring.

Read the Conciliation Agreement

 

A local ordinance (referred to as the “Three Strikes Ordinance”) punished survivors each time police were called for domestic violence protection and forced their landlords to evict them under the guise of “disorderly conduct.” The City of Norristown was required to: provide a copy of the Conciliation Agreement with employees and retain a copy for public review; provide fair housing training to City staff and anyone interacting with victims of domestic violence; develop an education program and brochure regarding rights under the Fair Housing Act; repeal the Three Strikes Ordinance; partner with local anti-domestic violence advocates to raise awareness about domestic violence through a community service activity and conduct such activity annually; report housing discrimination complaints annually to HUD; and cooperate with HUD in future fair housing monitoring.

Read the Conciliation Agreement

 

A domestic violence survivor had her lease terminated by a private landlord participating in the Housing Choice Voucher program after survivor was attacked by her boyfriend in her unit, whereas a male tenant did not suffer similar consequences when his son assaulted residents in the complex. As a result of these facts, HUD issued a charge of discrimination against the housing provider.

Read the Conciliation Agreement

 

A USDA-subsidized housing provider issued a survivor an eviction notice after she was physically attacked by her husband in the unit, and later denied her application for a new unit based on the domestic violence incident. There was a finding of reasonable cause that the housing provider discriminated against the survivor based on her sex.

Read the Conciliation Agreement

 

Complaint based on unlawful enforcement of an ordinance requiring landlords to evict tenants with at least three “disorderly behavior” incidents or risk losing their rental license and/or be subject to fines. This ordinance had a disproportionate effect on female survivors of domestic violence. The City agreed to change the ordinance to exempt victims of domestic violence; provide training to City staff and anyone interacting with victims of domestic violence; partner with a local domestic violence advocacy group to raise awareness about domestic violence; report housing discrimination complaints annually; cooperate with HUD in future fair housing monitoring.

Read the Conciliation Agreement

 

 

 

 

 

Program Office Specific Resources

 

 

 

Organizations

 

National Network to End Domestic Violence
A social change organization dedicated to creating a social, political, and economic environment in which violence against women no longer exists.

Safe Housing Alliance
An organization established to ensure survivors of domestic and sexual violence have access to a full range of housing options.

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
National organization that supports efforts for change of conditions that lead to domestic violence and holding offenders accountable.

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
A source of information for those wanting to educate themselves and help others on the many issues related to domestic violence.

 

Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)
The largest anti-sexual violence organization that carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

National Sexual Violence Resource Center
National network of community-based rape crisis centers and local organizations who support the needs of sexual assault survivors.

 

Office on Human Trafficking in Persons – Grantees
Provides information and resources about human trafficking.

Domestic Victims of Human Trafficking Program Grantees
A list of grantees throughout the United States offering services to victims of human trafficking.

Freedom Network USA
A network of trafficking survivors, legal and social service providers, researchers, advocacy organizations, and consultants ensuring survivors have access to justice, safety and opportunity.

Ujima, Inc.: National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community A national resource center whose mission is to mobilize the community to respond to and end domestic, sexual and community violence within the Black community.

National Organization of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault (SCESA) An advocacy organization of Women of Color dedicated to working with the communities to create a just society in which all Women of Color are able to live healthy lives free of violence.

National Organization of Asians and Pacific Islanders Ending Sexual Assault (NAPIESV) A program under Monsoon Asians & Pacific Islanders in Solidarity, supporting local and international community-based programs and governmental organizations in enhancing their services to victims of sexual violence from the Asian and Pacific Islander communities in the U.S., U.S. Territories in the Pacific, and Asia.

 

Legal Services Corporation
Search for help with a civil legal problem by location.

Law Help
Offers list of legal aid providers and information about legal rights by state.

Women’s Law
Find legal resources and shelters by state.

 

 

 

 

 

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If you are in danger, please call 911 or a national hotline. HUD is not a direct service provider and does not provide individual counseling, crisis response, or legal services to individuals who have experienced domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and/or human trafficking. For more information and to connect to a local service provider in your area, please see Help for Survivors.

Please be aware that web browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer) often track which websites you visit, which can be viewed in the search history. This information could put you at further risk if discovered by a perpetrator, so please be cautious and clear your browsing history. To find out how to clear your browsing history, click here. If possible, you may want to use a computer that the perpetrator is unlikely to use, such as at a public library.

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