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Housing Rights for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence

Posted June 23, 2014

Did you know under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA) all landlords participating in Section 8 voucher programs must comply with VAWA?  Our friends at the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence have provided a helpful handout detailing tenants housing rights.  All of the following apply to landords participating in Section 8 voucher programs:

  • A landlord may not evict a tenant from housing because the tenant was or is a victim of domestic violence, sexual violence, or stalking.  [See VAWA 2013, Ch. 2 Sec 41411 (b)(1)]
  • A landlord may not use domestic violence, sexual violence, or stalking as a good cause for eviction. [See VAWA 2013, Ch. 2 Sec. 41411 (b)(2)(B)]
  • A landlord may not deny a tenant tenancy or occupancy rights to housing solely because a criminal activity occurred that was directly related to domestic violence, sexual violence, or stalking engaged in by a household member or guest if the tenant is the victim.  [See VAWA 2013, Ch. 2 Sec. 41411 (b)(3)(A)]
  • A landlord may not evict a tenant if the tenant’s partner or any household member whose name is also on the lease commits a criminal act of violence against the tenant and is evicted and the tenant can demonstrate that he or she is eligible for Section 8 housing assistance.  [See VAWA 2013, Ch. 2 Sec. 41411 (b)(3)(B)(ii) regarding bifurcation of lease]
  • A landlord may not hold a tenant who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual violence, or stalking to a higher standard than other tenants in determining whether to evict.  [See VAWA 2013, Ch. 2 Sec 41411 (b)(3)(C)(ii)]
  • A landlord may not evict you from housing because you were or are a victim of domestic violence, sexual violence, or stalking.
  • A landlord may not use domestic violence, sexual violence, or stalking as a good cause for eviction.
  • A landlord may not deny you housing rights solely because a criminal activity occurred that was directly related to domestic violence, sexual violence, or stalking engaged in by a household member or a guest and you are the victim.
  • A landlord may not evict you if your partner or any household member whose name is also on the lease commits a criminal act of violence against you and is evicted an you can demonstrate that you are eligible for Section 8 housing assistance.  In such a case, your lease may be split, and you may be able to stay in your housing.
  • A landlord may not hold you to a higher standard than other tenants in determining whether to evict if you are a victim of domestic violence, sexual violence, or stalking.

For legal information call Vermont Law Line at 1-800-889-2047.

To contact Vermont Victims Compensation Program call 1-800-750-1213.

 



Domestic Violence is a Leading Cause of Homelessness

Posted April 2, 2014

In 2013, 16% of all homeless adults were victims of domestic violence. The proportion is even higher for women, with as many as one in every four homeless women reporting domestic violence as the cause of their homelessness. Additionally, over half of homeless women have experienced domestic or sexual violence at some point in their lives.

Safe, stable, and legally protected housing is critical to preventing homelessness for survivors.

The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty has more:

A recent census by the National Network to End Domestic Violence found that victims of domestic violence experienced “devastating unmet needs” when requesting emergency shelter or transitional housing. In fact, shelter and housing requests accounted for 60% of all unmet needs in the census; in a single 24-hour period, 5,778 requests from domestic violence victims for shelter or housing went unmet due to limited resources. This lack of safe housing often leaves victims with an impossible choice – to return to their abusers and face additional violence, or to become homeless.

Such a choice is frightening even for a single adult, and heartbreaking for a parent trying to escape violence with her children. Access to emergency shelter and safe, affordable housing are vital for victims to escape violence and avoid homelessness.

One year ago this month, President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA) into law. This law included a major extension of housing protections for victims of domestic and sexual violence living in public and federally subsidized housing, including preventing eviction of victims based on the actions of their abusers, and requiring Public Housing Authorities to adopt emergency transfer policies.

In Vermont, the 14 member programs of the Vermont Network Against Domestic & Sexual Violence in 2012 served 8,778 victims of domestic violence, fielded 12,507 hotline calls, and housed 1,065 adult victims in shelters and safehomes.  Learn more here.