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VAWA: LeadingAge Submits Recommendations to Assist HUD in Development of Future Implementation Guidance

by Published On: Aug 06, 2013Updated On: Oct 04, 2013

LeadingAge has been an active participant in the legislative development of Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) 2013 and the regulatory implementation of the original 2005 act. Since then, we have continued to work to ensure that VAWA provided important protections for victims of domestic violence (both male and female), while balancing the needs of victims, their communities and housing providers alike.

In October 2013, LeadingAge submitted recommendations to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in response to the August 6 notice in the Federal Register on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) 2013 request for feedback to help the agency develop further implementation guidance.

Working in collaboration with a diverse group of housing providers, our joint comments focused on lease bifurcation, notification, documentation, and emergency transfer plans.  

Bifurcation enables housing providers to remove or terminate assistance to a perpetrator of domestic violence while maintaining housing or assistance for a domestic violence victim.  We recommended up to 90 days to provide "reasonable" time for the victim and any remaining members of the household, not already determined eligible for housing, to either: 

  1. Establish eligibility under the existing program.
  2. Establish eligibility under a different program.
  3. Find new housing. And urged HUD to clarify bifurcation and eligibility impacts on waiting lists and admission criteria. 

VAWA 2013 expands the notification requirements enacted in VAWA 2005.  

LeadingAge recommended that required notifications be incorporated into existing standard program documents and materials that are provided to tenants.  

Examples include the Tenants' Rights and Responsibilities brochure and the Section 8 Tenancy Addendum - HUD 52641-A - which already includes a notification of rights under VAWA 2005.  The joint comments also urged HUD to prioritize the translation of these notification materials to satisfy Limited English Proficiency requirements.   

VAWA 2013 specifically allows housing providers to require third-party certification where there is conflicting information about an incident  of domestic violence.  We expect HUD’s implementing guidance and forms to reflect the ability for housing providers to require third-party certification when there is not clear evidence that domestic violence occurred, or there is a question about who is the victim and who is the perpetrator.

The emergency transfer comments emphasized that private property owners and managers generally are not in a position to transfer residents to another property by nature of the volume and availability of dwelling units under the control of various program participants.  

We recommended that, where it is not feasible for an individual PHA, owner or manager to effectuate a transfer, HUD should consider providing a HUD resource person in each HUB or program center that an owner or manager can direct a tenant to for alternate housing options.

Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 Background

On March 7, 2013, President Obama signed into law the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013).  VAWA 2013 continues many of the housing protections that had been provided by the Violence Against Women Act of 2005 (VAWA 2005) and extended coverage to include the Section 236 and Section 221(d)(3) mortgage insurance programs, the HOME program, and the low income housing tax credit program.

It also extended safeguards in several crucial ways, including:

  • Extending protections to survivors of sexual assault.
  • Allowing survivors who remain in the unit to establish eligibility or find new housing when a lease is bifurcated.
  • Providing survivors with emergency transfers.
  • Notifying applicants and tenants of VAWA housing rights at three specific times: when application for residency is denied, when a resident is newly admitted, and with any notification of eviction or termination of assistance.

However, implementation guidance for newly covered programs must be developed by HUD, according to the law, including model transfer plans to be used by PHAs and owners or managers of housing assisted under the covered programs.  

The August 6 notice in the Federal Register on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) 2013 provided an overview of key provisions applicable to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs, including:

  • A comparison between what the requirements were under the previous statute.
  • What the law mandates for owners going forward.
  • HUD's plan to issue rules or guidance on the new law, as applicable, at a later date, and 
  • Solicited feedback on specific elements of the guidance that would be developed.

VAWA 2013 also makes the housing protections for all covered programs more consistent by repealing many of the prior provisions that had been replicated in several program statutes and consolidating them into a new section within the Violence Against Women Act

Which Programs are Covered under the Violence Against Women Act 2013?

Previously, the housing protections of VAWA 2005 only applied to public housing, the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, Section 8 project-based housing, Section 202 housing for the elderly* and Section 811 housing for people with disabilities. 

All of these programs are administered by HUD. VAWA 2013 expanded the list of housing to which VAWA applies by including additional HUD programs and specific affordable housing programs administered by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Treasury.

VAWA 2013 applies to the following types of housing (“covered housing programs”):

  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

    • Public housing.
    • Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program; o Section 8 project-based housing. 
    • Section 202 housing for the elderly*.
    • Section 811 housing for people with disabilities.
    • Section 236 multifamily rental housing. 
    • Section 221(d)(3) Below Market Interest Rate (BMIR) housing. 
    • HOME.
    • Housing Opportunities for People with Aids (HOPWA).
    • McKinney-Vento Act programs.

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture

    • Rural Development (RD) multifamily housing programs.

  • U.S. Department of Treasury

    • Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) **

* Section 202 direct loan projects without project-based Section 8 assistance have been determined to be specifically exempted from the covered program list, as have the Section 202/PAC program.  But Section 202/8 and 202/PRAC are covered.

** And, while a violation of VAWA by itself does not constitute an incidence of non-compliance within the LIHTC program because it is not required by Section 42 of the IRC, it would be a legal issue if it is determined that a violation of VAWA is also a violation of a resident's rights under fair housing law,  for which compliance is mandated, and as such the incident could trigger a loss or recapture of LIHTC.

 



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