New Website, Technical Assistance and Enforcement Guidance Strengthen Protections for Survivors Applying for and Living in HUD-Assisted Properties
Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced new resources to advance housing protections for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). These resources include a new VAWA website, a Notice setting out HUD’s enforcement authority under VAWA, and up to $5 million in funding to provide VAWA training and technical assistance to HUD grantees and other stakeholders.
“No one should have to choose between maintaining housed and staying safe. The Violence Against Women Act makes clear that survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking cannot be denied housing and are eligible for an emergency transfer should the need arise,” said Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “We are making these protections clear on HUD’s website, so landlords are aware of our requirements and survivors know their rights.”
Under VAWA, applicants and tenants of certain HUD rental assistance programs may not be denied housing, evicted, or have their housing assistance terminated because they have experienced domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Additionally, survivors must be able to access certain remedies, such as the ability to request an emergency transfer for safety reasons related to the violence.
If a housing provider or survivor is unclear on VAWA’s protections, they can visit the newly launched webpage, which serves as a clearinghouse for HUD’s VAWA resources. The site features FAQs on VAWA housing protections, VAWA trainings, related forms and legal authorities, as well as referrals to direct services for survivors.
On March 15, 2022, President Biden signed into law the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022 (VAWA 2022), which enhances housing protections for survivors applying for and living in units assisted by HUD programs. VAWA 2022 protects an individual’s right to call emergency services and report crime from their homes – meaning that families do not have to fear losing their housing if they need to call 9-1-1. The protections also ensure that individuals do not have to fear retaliation from their housing provider for exercising their rights under VAWA or assisting others in doing so, including filing VAWA complaints.
Further, in a Notice published today, HUD establishes that the Department will implement and enforce VAWA in such way that provides the same rights and remedies as those provided under the Fair Housing Act. Accordingly, HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) may exercise discretion to investigate alleged or suspected non-compliance with VAWA, similar to how it may do so under the Fair Housing Act. VAWA also requires federal agencies, including HUD, to establish a process to review compliance with the applicable requirements in VAWA. HUD will implement this broader compliance review obligation, as discussed in more detail in the Notice. To the extent possible, HUD will identify existing compliance review procedures that already allow for such reviews, including those currently administered by FHEO.
“FHEO has long worked to eradicate discrimination in housing. With this new authority to enforce the housing provisions of VAWA, FHEO is committed to protecting the rights of VAWA survivors and their families,” said Demetria L. McCain, HUD’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
Additionally, HUD announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity for the Department’s Community Compass Technical Assistance and Capacity Building Program (NOFO). This NOFO includes up to $5 million that will be awarded to Technical Assistance Providers (TA Providers) that will provide VAWA trainings, technical assistance, and support to housing providers, grantees, and other stakeholders.
“The new website, enforcement notice, and technical assistance funding are critical first steps in helping survivors understand their VAWA rights and housing providers understand their obligations under VAWA,” said Karlo Ng, HUD’s Director on Gender-based Violence Prevention and Equity. “All these components are vital in ensuring that survivors can find and live in safe, stable, and affordable housing.”
For more information about your rights and responsibilities under VAWA, please visit https://www.hud.gov/vawa. If you believe your rights under VAWA have been violated, you may file a complaint at https://www.hud.gov/fairhousing.