Senator Al Franken (D-MN) introduced the Housing Rights for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence Act on November 17. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) are original cosponsors. NLIHC and more than 20 other organizations have endorsed the bill.
Currently, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) housing discrimination provisions only apply to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking who live in public housing, project-based Section 8 properties, or who have a Housing Choice Voucher.
The bill would require that the VAWA housing protections also apply to victims of sexual assault. Further, the bill would expand the protections to cover nine additional federal housing programs, including the Section 202 and 811 programs.
The legislation, among other provisions, would allow for the bifurcation of leases to ensure that a victim who shares a lease with the abuser is allowed to remain in the subsidized housing unit. The measure would also require property owners or managers to develop emergency transfer policies for victims to move to different subsidized units.
It is expected that the Housing Rights for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence Act will be incorporated as the housing title of the forthcoming comprehensive VAWA reauthorization bill to be introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
The bill, S. 1892, was referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.
The full bill text is available at: http://nlihc.org/doc/VAWA_Housing_Bill_2011.pdf