On October 24, HUD announced the impending publication of a final rule that will expand the housing protections for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking (hereinafter known as “victim”) regardless of sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age. The final rule will fully codify the provisions of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013) into HUD’s regulations.
At its core, VAWA 2013 prohibits housing providers from denying or terminating housing assistance on the basis that an applicant or tenant is a victim. HUD’s final rule expands the universe of HUD rental assistance programs subject to the VAWA 2013 statute beyond Public Housing and Section 8 programs to also include:
- Housing Trust Fund (HTF) – a program originally not listed under VAWA 2013;
- HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) program;
- Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) program;
- HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless programs;
- Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities;
- Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly;
- Section 221(d)(3) Below Market Interest Rate (BMIR) Program
- Section 236 Rental Program
These programs, along with properties assisted through the USDA Rural Housing programs and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, are collectively referred to as “covered housing programs.”
Overall, HUD’s final rule:
- Codifies the core protections under VAWA 2013 across HUD’s covered programs by ensuring survivors are not denied assistance as an applicant, or evicted or have assistance terminated due to the individual’s victim status, or for being affiliated with a victim.
- Provides a model emergency transfer plan for housing providers and explains how housing providers must address their tenants’ requests for emergency transfers.
- Offers protections against the adverse effects of abuse that can often have negative economic and criminal consequences on a survivor. For example, a perpetrator may take out credit cards in a survivor’s name, ruining their credit history. Covered housing providers may not deny tenancy or occupancy rights based solely on adverse factors that are a direct result of being a survivor.
- Makes clear that under most circumstances, a survivor need only to self-certify in order to exercise their rights under VAWA, there by “ensuring third party documentation does not cause a barrier in a survivor expressing their rights and receiving the protections needed to keep themselves safe.”
HUD’s final rule is currently pending publication in the Federal Register. Once published, the rule’s regulations will become effective after 30 days.