The Federal Government Steps Up to Protect Survivors of Domestic Abuse From Eviction

Tonya Lee* and her two children had been living in their Maryland apartment complex for five years when her boyfriend became enraged during an argument and stabbed her and her older son. After the police arrested him, her landlord sent her a notice: They were evicting her because of the violence. Her lease included a standard provision authorizing eviction of tenants when there is criminal activity in their homes. 

Domestic violence survivors shouldn’t face eviction just because the crime takes place in their home. The ACLU has been advocating for 15 years to establish survivors’ rights to stay in their homes after reporting domestic violence and sexual assault. Those rights are now a reality for millions of people across the country.

Today I was part of a forum with Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro at which he announced three housing reforms that will help protect victims like Tonya from losing their homes. Speaking at the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence conference in Chandler, Arizona, Castro announced new regulations from HUD that guarantee survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking protection from eviction from federally funded housing. The regulations carry out housing rights created by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which applies to public housing, Section 8 housing, and affordable housing developed with tax credits. The regulations also state that housing providers must develop policies that offer emergency transfer options for survivors who need to move to another location for safety reasons. 

Survivors also often confront local nuisance, or crime-free, ordinances. These ordinances exist around the country and penalize tenants for calling 911 for criminal activity at their home, even when they are the victims. For example, Nancy Markham was nearly kicked out of her Surprise, Arizona, home after calling the police for protection from domestic violence. There was a city ordinance that treated 911 calls as “nuisances” that could lead to eviction. 

After advocacy by the ACLU and our partners, HUD issued new guidance explaining that local nuisance ordinances can violate the Fair Housing Act because they so often penalize domestic violence victims who call 911. The guidance calls on cities to get rid of such ordinances to promote fair housing for domestic violence and other crime victims.

HUD also finalized regulations that for the first time explain how the Fair Housing Act prohibits sexual, racial, and other forms of harassment in housing. Such protections are vital to prevent the experiences of women like Yolanda Boswell, whose real estate manager repeatedly offered to reduce her rent in exchange for sex. When she refused, he raised her rent and threatened to evict her. We later learned that he similarly harassed several other women. Just as employers can be held accountable for harassment in the workplace, the regulations spell out how property owners and landlords are responsible when they fail to address harassment committed by their agents. 

The ACLU represented Tonya, Nancy, and Yolanda as they successfully fought housing discrimination. But millions of people have faced the loss of their housing because they are victims of domestic and sexual violence. They may feel trapped and endure further violence to avoid homelessness.   

These latest housing reforms bring us one step closer to a world where everyone’s home is a sanctuary. Survivors of violence cannot truly be free without being able to obtain and keep safe housing. And the right to fair housing must not only include having a roof over one’s head, but also living free from violence and abuse.          

*Tonya Lee is a pseudonym.   

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Fair Housing Co...

The statement that the rule will extend VAWA protections to properties developed with tax credits is in error. See covered properties under definitions provided in new 24 CFR 5.2003

Anonymous

So a woman brings a feral loser into the home she's rented and when the expected violence occurs the landlords just have to suck it up? This entire DV thing is just a way of removing any consequences at all from women. Do women have agency or not?
Also the fact the ACLU supports the VAWA is outrageous and demonstrates you've become just another leftist advocacy group.
Shame.

Anonymous

You must be a feral loser yourself. You are absurd.

NPD SupplyNoMore!

YOU SAY: "So a woman brings a feral loser into the home she's rented and when the expected violence occurs the landlords just have to suck it up?"
~~~~~~~~~~~~

"EXPECTED VIOLENCE"? WTH is EXPECTED VIOLENCE?
"just a way of removing CONSEQUENCES" you say? You know NOTHING ABOUT the consequences and can't even begin to fathom it, but one of the consequences is dealing with neanderthals like you who BLAME US for the abuse... NO ACT of VIOLENCE is EVER DESERVED Mr Anon SlumLord!

Me thinks you protest too much... you must be a cowardly, abuser, POS!
Why would anyone NOT support the VAWA, unless they were an abuser?

Anonymous

I've been evicted because of stalking in an area that systematically ousts black women of all ages. They harassed me at home and at work IN GROUPS! Unbelievably, I had to return to the same city for safety reasons. So what DO you do...you dont want to be homeless but these people, many who need pscyhological help, will work in groups to attack SINGLE WOMEN. Thank God I haven't had my children yet! Even church groups aid in this lunacy!

vivianperez

Im shocked reading about these cases. Since 2012 I've been living in fear. I was violently beaten and made to spend the night on my than bf"s balcony.I was threaten, harassed,profiled by him as mental. I wound up in the hospital and got a TRO. My X is the super of the building where Ive been living with my son longer than him. BC a PO that lives in the building is his friend I have no police reports. I've spent my entire savings on defense and when I reached out to my landlord for help, she started eviction. please help me.

gooey

How about protecting domestic violence survivors from having their children taken from them. It's like being re-victimized all over again!

Anonymous

surprised they dont charge the beaten woman with a felony for being beaten , felonious instigation of assault, civil matrimonal disobedience, something like that. Hell a woman got a year for laughing at Jeff Sessions..

Anonymous

crazy ass people that wrote these laws belong in a nuthouse, but they closed em all down.

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