On August 6, HUD published a notice describing how the changes to the Violence Against Women program resulting from the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013) affects HUD programs. VAWA provides protections for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
While VAWA amendments in 2005 provided protections to residents of public housing and residents of the Section 8 tenant-based and project-based programs, other HUD programs were not covered. VAWA 2013 expands protections to some other HUD programs. The programs newly covered by VAWA 2013 are:
- HOME Investment Partnerships program
- McKinney-Vento Homeless programs (Emergency Solutions Grants, Continuum of Care, and Rural Housing Assistance Stability)
- Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA)
- Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities
- Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly
- Section 236
- Section 221(d)(3) Below Market Interest Rate (BMIR).
The Federal Register notice does not provide formal program guidance, but rather informs the public of the key changes made through VAWA 2013. HUD will issue guidance and/or rules at a later date.
VAWA 2005’s protections relating to admission, occupancy, and termination of assistance are extended to the other listed HUD programs. These include:
- Being a victim is not a basis for denial of assistance.
- Incidents or threats cannot be interpreted as serious or repeated violations of the lease or as “good cause” to terminate assistance.
- Criminal activity directly related to domestic violence that is engaged in by a member of a tenant’s household or any guest or other person under the tenant’s control cannot be used as a reason to terminate assistance.
- Regarding “criminal activity,” VAWA 2013 replaced the term “immediate family member” with the term “affiliated individual,” which provides a more expansive definition.
VAWA 2005’s rights and responsibilities of Public Housing Agencies (PHAs), owners, and managers are also extended to the other listed HUD programs. A key aspect of the 2005 provisions allowed PHAs, owners, and managers to “bifurcate” a lease, that is, they could evict or end assistance to any lawful occupant who engaged in criminal acts of physical violence, yet not evict or end the assistance of others in the household. VAWA 2013 continues this policy, but now provides that if the person removed as a result of bifurcation was the sole eligible tenant, remaining tenants must have the opportunity to establish their eligibility for the program, or, if not eligible, be given a reasonable amount of time to find new housing.
VAWA 2005 allowed PHAs, owners, and managers to request documentation that someone was a victim. It also indicated acceptable forms of documentation. VAWA 2013 extends these provisions to the other HUD programs, and adds that a victim may only be required to provide the name of an abuser if it is safe to do so.
VAWA 2013 requires HUD to adopt a model emergency transfer plan to be used by PHAs, owners, and managers. The model plan must allow a victim to transfer to another available and safe home under one of the HUD programs and must have reasonable confidentiality measures.
The Federal Register notice is available at: http://1.usa.gov/145diKb