|HUD No. 23-223
HUD Public Affairs
September 28, 2023
HUD Reaches Settlements with Nevada/California Housing Providers, Resolving Allegations of Discrimination Against Survivors Protected Under the Violence Against Women Act
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced settlements with housing providers in Nevada and California, resolving allegations that they denied housing opportunities to two women because they experienced dating violence and stalking.
The agreements are the first under HUD’s new enforcement authority under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022 (“VAWA 2022”), which President Biden signed into law on March 15, 2022. VAWA 2022 enhances housing protections for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking applying for and assisted under covered HUD housing programs and certain other federal housing and homeless assistance programs by authorizing HUD to enforce the law by the same process – and with the same rights and remedies – as the Fair Housing Act. Such rights include filing a discrimination complaint with HUD to investigate the allegations. The conciliation agreements provide monetary damages to the complainants, priority placement on the waiting list for available units, policy changes, staff training, and operational changes. If a respondent housing provider fails to comply with the terms of the agreement, HUD may refer it to the Department of Justice for enforcement.
Under VAWA, individuals in certain Federal housing and homeless assistance programs cannot be denied housing, evicted, or lose assistance due to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. They also have the right to request an emergency transfer for safety reasons related to violence. VAWA 2022 ensures the right to call 9-1-1 without fear of losing housing, and it prohibits retaliation by housing providers for exercising VAWA rights or assisting others in doing so. These protections apply regardless of sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. See summary of each agreement below:
“With these first conciliation agreements, HUD underscores its ongoing commitment to enforcing the individuals’ rights enshrined in VAWA. These two cases represent a small percentage of persons who have filed with HUD under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022’s new process. Housing providers are on notice that they must comply with the law and not create unnecessary burdens to those seeking housing protections under VAWA,” said HUD Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Demetria L. McCain. “At HUD, we are committed to protecting the housing rights of VAWA survivors and their families.”
HUD Announces Settlement Agreement in Nevada
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.
HUD Announces Settlement Agreement in California
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.
For more information about your rights and responsibilities under VAWA, please visit https://www.hud.gov/vawa. If you believe your rights under VAWA have been violated, you may file a complaint at https://www.hud.gov/fairhousing or dialing (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (Federal Relay Service).