WHAT HOUSING PROVIDERS SHOULD
KNOW ABOUT THE
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT
Tom Prettyman, Attorney
New Mexico Legal Aid, Albuquerque, NM
June 18, 2014
© 2014 New Mexico Legal Aid, Inc.
1. VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT
(VAWA)
 Grants to law enforcement, courts, shelters, social
service agencies, housing providers & government
agencies providing services to DV victims
 Creates a national database for DV protection orders.
 Makes a DV protection order issued by a state, tribe or
territory more easily enforceable by other states,
tribes & territories
 Applies to male and female victims alike.
1. VAWA
(Continued)
 Enacted in 1994,reauthorized 2000, 2005 and 2013
 VAWA 2013 extends protections to
Victims on tribal land
LGBT and immigrant victims
Victims of sexual assault
Residents of additional subsidized housing programs
 HUD issued a notice about VAWA 2013 changes, but
has not issued new regulations for VAWA 2013
2. RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HOUSING
& DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
 Congress has found
Strong link between DV & homelessness.
Tenants are discriminated against, denied
access to and evicted from housing because of
status as DV victims
Victims who leave their abusers have trouble
finding long-term housing, and often return to
their abusers due lack of housing options.
3. “COVERED HOUSING PROGRAMS”
UNDER VAWA
Covered byVAWA 2005
 Public Housing
 HCV Section 8
 Project-Based Sec. 8
 Section 202/811
Added byVAWA 2013
 236 Multifamily
 221(d)(3) BMIR
 HOME
 HOPWA
 McKinney Vento Act
 USDA/RD
 LIHTC
3. “COVERED HOUSING PROGRAMS”
UNDER VAWA (continued)
 Applies to PHAs, owners and property
managers.
 VAWA does not protect tenants in private
market rate housing.
4. WHO DOES VAWA PROTECT?
 Victims of actual or threatened
Domestic Violence
Dating Violence
Sexual Assault (VAWA 2013)
Stalking
 “Affiliated Individual” of the victim (spouse, sibling, child of
victim; individual to whom victim stands in loco parentis;
person lawfully living in victim's household).
 VAWA 2013 extends coverage to LGBT & immigrant victims
and victims on tribal lands
5. TO WHICH PHA/OWNER/MANAGER
ACTIONS DOES VAWA APPLY?
Admissions
Evictions and subsidy terminations
6. ADMISSIONS
 PHAs, owners, and managers shall not
deny an applicant housing on the basis
that an applicant was victim of domestic
violence, dating violence, sexual assault
or stalking.
7. EVICTIONS & TERMINATIONS
 PHAs/owners/managers may not evict or terminate
assistance for tenant on the basis that the tenant is a
victim.
 Crimes against victim “directly relating to” the abuse are
not grounds for evicting the victim or terminating her
subsidy.
 An incident of actual or threatened domestic violence is
not a “serious or repeated lease violation” or good cause
for eviction of the victim or terminating the victim’s
subsidy.
 Tenant protections do not apply to violations unrelated to
DV.
7. EVICTIONS & TERMINATIONS
(continued)
 EXCEPTIONS
PHAs and landlords can evict the victim if they can
demonstrate an “actual and imminent threat” to other
tenants or employees at the property if the victim is not
evicted.
VAWA 2013 does not define “actual and imminent threat”.
Regulations for VAWA 2005 define “actual and imminent
threat” as physical danger that is real, would occur within an
immediate timeframe, and could result in death or serious
bodily harm.
7. EVICTIONS & TERMINATIONS
(continued)
 BIFURCATION
PHA, owner or manager may evict or terminate
assistance to the abuser while allowing a victim who
is a lawful occupant to remain (also in NM state
law).
• COMPLIANCE WITH COURT ORDERS
PHAs, owners and managers must comply with
court orders regarding the rights or access to
property or distribution, possession or control of
property (including DV protection orders).
7. EVICTIONS & TERMINATIONS
(continued)
 REMAINING HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS
If the individual who is evicted is the sole tenant
eligible to receive housing assistance, PHA, owner or
manager must give any remaining tenant an
opportunity to establish eligibility for that program
or a reasonable time to move or establish eligibility
for another covered housing program.
7. EVICTIONS & TERMINATIONS
(continued)
 New Mexico Uniform Owner Resident
Relations Act (UORRA) provides for
bifurcation of a residential lease in the case of
DV victims
 This state law protection applies to all
residential tenancies, whether subsidized or
unsubsidized.
8.PORTABILITY
 PHA may permit section 8 family to port out if
family has complied with all obligations of
program and is moving to protect health and
safety of a victim.
 Portability is permitted in this situation even if
lease term has not expired.
9. CERTIFICATION
 Where applicant/tenant claims protection under
VAWA, PHA, owner or manager may, but is not
required to, request in writing that
tenant/applicant provide documentation.
 Tenant/applicant must provide documentation
in 14 business days after written request.
PHA/owner/manager has discretion to extend
deadline.
9. CERTIFICATION (continued)
 Form of documentation:
 HUD/USDA/Dept of Treas.-approved form stating (1) applicant
or tenant is victim, (2) incident meets VAWA requirements, and
(3) name of abuser, if known and safe to provide; OR
 Statement signed under penalty of perjury by victim service
provider, attorney, medical or mental health professional that
he/she believes incident meets VAWA requirements AND signed
by tenant/applicant; OR
 Record of federal, state, territorial, tribal or local law
enforcement agency, court or administrative agency; OR
 Statement or other evidence at discretion of
PHA/owner/manager.
9. CERTIFICATION (continued)
 Where there are conflicting
certifications, PHA/owner/manager
may require applicant or tenant or
submit additional third-party
documentation.
10. EMERGENCY TRANSFERS
 Applicable federal agency must adopt model emergency
transfer plan for use by PHAs, owners and managers.
 Transfer to available and safe dwelling unit under a covered
housing program if (1) requested by tenant and (2) (a) tenant
reasonably believes she is threatened with imminent harm
from further violence if she stays or (b) tenant is victim of
sexual assault that occurred in premises within prior 90 days.
 Plan must include confidentiality measures.
 Neither HUD, USDA nor Treasury has adopted a model plan.
12. CONFIDENTIALITY
 PHA, owner, manager must keep confidential the certification
information provided by victim.
 Information cannot be entered in a shared database or
disclosed to others unless
 Consented to by victim,
 Required for use in eviction proceeding, or
 Otherwise required by law
 Employees of PHA, owner or manager are prohibited from
accessing info unless specifically and authorized to do so
because it is necessary for their work.
13. NOTICES & LANGUAGE ACCESS
 Agencies must develop a notice of VAWA housing rights for
applicants and tenants (has not happened yet).
 PHAs, owners and managers must give the notice and the
agency-approved self-certification form to applicants and
tenants at 3 junctures:
 Time of denial of admission,
 Time of admission, and
 With any notice of termination or eviction.
 Notice must be available in multiple languages and be
consistent with HUD guidance.
14. VAWA DOES NOT CLEARLY
ADDRESS
Program violation with indirect link
to abuse. For example, what if
abuser refuses to pay rent?
Situation where victim repeatedly
reconciles with the abuser, who
returns to cause program violation.
DISCLAIMER
The information in this presentation is
for informational purposes only. This
information does not constitute legal
advice or a legal opinion and should
not be relied on as legal advice or
opinion. For legal advice, please
contact your attorney.