August 13, 2013
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On August 6, HUD issued a notice in the Federal Register to provide an overview of the applicability of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, public law 113-4, (VAWA 2013) to HUD programs.  VAWA 2013 was enacted on March 7, 2013.  As described in NCSHA’s March 8 blog post, the law expands VAWA’s applicability beyond HUD’s public housing and Section 8 tenant-based and project-based rental assistance programs to include the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit), Section 202 Housing for the Elderly, Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities, Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA), HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME), Section 221(d) mortgage insurance, and Section 236 mortgage insurance programs.  It is also applicable to a number of rural housing assistance programs authorized by the Housing Act of 1949. 

VAWA 2013 is designed to protect both child and adult victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.  VAWA 2013 expands protections relating to the prohibition of terminating assistance because of criminal activity directly relating to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking by replacing the term “immediate family member” with “affiliated individual.”  If the tenant or affiliated individual is the victim of the above-described criminal activity, the activity cannot be cause for terminating assistance, tenancy, or occupancy rights.

VAWA 2013 mandates that if a lease is bifurcated and the removed tenant or occupant was the sole person eligible to receive assistance in the covered HUD program, the Public Housing Agency (PHA), owner, or manager must provide remaining tenants with the opportunity to establish eligibility under the HUD program providing assistance.  If the tenant is unable to establish eligibility, the PHA, owner, or manager must provide the tenant with a reasonable amount of time to find new housing or establish eligibility under a different housing program.  HUD will provide through later guidance or regulations what constitutes a reasonable amount of time.

VAWA 2013 requires HUD to adopt a model emergency transfer plan for use by PHAs, owners, managers, and other housing providers participating in the covered HUD programs.  The plan must allow tenants who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, to transfer to another available and safe dwelling under a covered housing program and must incorporate reasonable confidentiality measures.  The tenant can be granted a transfer only if the tenant requests one and either reasonably believes he or she is threatened with imminent harm from further violence if he or she remains in the unit or, if the tenant is a victim of assault, the assault occurred on the premises during the 90-day period before the transfer request.  Transfers are subject to the availability of other assisted housing and to all other HUD requirements being met.

VAWA 2013 extends the documentation and confidentiality requirements of VAWA to all HUD covered programs.  HUD will be developing new forms for the HUD programs added by VAWA 2013.  Also, VAWA 2013 requires that HUD, rather than individual housing providers, develop a notice outlining an applicant’s or tenant’s rights under VAWA 2013.

The VAWA 2013 provisions related to HUD programs became effective upon the law’s enactment.  HUD will be issuing administrative guidance, in addition to promulgating regulations, to help programs comply with VAWA 2013.  HUD’s August 6 notice should not be considered as program guidance. 

Comments are due to HUD by October 7, 2013.  If you have comments you would like NCSHA to consider submitting to HUD, please send them to NCSHA’s Mindy La Branche.