On June 1, NLIHC joined more than 80 national and state organizations on a comment letter regarding HUD’s proposed rule implementing new housing protections included in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA). A proposed rule was published on April 1 (see Memo, 4/6). Among other provisions, VAWA 2013 expanded protections beyond public housing and Section 8 housing to other HUD programs such as the National Housing Trust Fund, the HOME Investments Partnership Program, McKinney-Vento Homeless programs, Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities, and others.
VAWA, which pertains to many federal programs, provides protections and services for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The 2013 reauthorization expanded VAWA beyond public housing and vouchers to a number of other HUD programs. In the context of HUD programs, being a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking cannot be the basis for denial of assistance or admission to assisted rental housing. VAWA has provisions regarding the rights and responsibilities of public housing agencies and owners and managers of assisted housing, acceptable documentation of incidents of domestic violence and related acts, and maintaining the confidentiality of victims. VAWA also has requirements regarding notification to tenants of their rights and protections under VAWA.
The extensive comments provided many recommendations to ensure that survivors receive the protections they need to remain safe and avoid homelessness. In particular, the comments discussed several concerns and ways to improve the proposed rule’s provisions regarding notification of VAWA rights, as well as emergency transfers and lease bifurcations as remedies survivors can use to escape abuse.
The comments also responded to specific HUD questions concerning whether HUD should apply VAWA to the National Housing Trust Fund (HTF) in the same way HUD plans to apply VAWA to the HOME program. The comments state, “Although HUD’s recent interim rule on the HTF codifies the program’s regulations in a new part separate from HOME’s regulations to highlight the HTF as a distinct program, we agree that VAWA protections should still be applied to the HTF in the same manner. While HTF specifically targets affordable rental housing for extremely low income households, and to a lesser extent very low income households, many of the HTF’s program requirements are similar to those that apply to the HOME program.”