Safe at Home

Fair Housing for Survivors of Domestic Violence

 Housing

Domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, and other forms of gender-based violence deprive people of their fundamental ability to live with dignity. Women and girls experience domestic violence and sexual assault at alarming rates. Governments, institutions, laws, and policies contribute to the systematic devaluation of the lives and safety of women and girls by failing to respond to gender-based violence and discriminating against those who have experienced abuse and violence.

Victims of gender-based violence too often face discrimination in housing, such as evictions or housing denials based on the violence they have experienced or sexual harassment by landlords and housing managers. Many local governments undermine both the safety and housing stability of victims of domestic violence when they enact local ordinances that penalize property owners and tenants when police respond to instances of domestic violence at a property.

Have You Faced Discrimination Because You Experienced Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Harassment or Assault, or Stalking?
Tell us your story.

 

IN THE COURTS: CASES

The Women's Rights Project works to ensure victims of domestic and sexual violence aren't additionally burdened by discrimination in housing.

Briggs v. Borough of Norristown (2013)
The ACLU, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and the law firm of Pepper Hamilton LLP, have filed a federal lawsuit challenging an unconstitutional municipal ordinance that punishes innocent tenants and their landlords for requesting police assistance. The challenge was filed on behalf of a domestic violence victim who faced eviction from her home after requesting police protection from an abusive ex-boyfriend.

Township of Mt. Holly v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, Inc. (2013)
This case concerns whether housing policies that have a disproportionate impact on racial minorities and women violate the anti-discrimination provision of the federal Fair Housing Act. In this amicus brief to the Supreme Court, the ACLU argues that a discriminatory impact standard is both consistent with Congressional intent and necessary to address critical and current issues, such as predatory lending and discrimination against domestic violence victims.

Magner v. Gallagher (2012)
On the question of whether housing policies that have a disproportionate impact on racial minorities and women violate the anti-discrimination provision of the federal Fair Housing Act, the ACLU argues in an amicus brief that a discriminatory impact standard is both consistent with Congressional intent and necessary to address critical and current issues, such as predatory lending and discrimination against domestic violence victims.

Hope v. Valencia Village, et al. (2011)
The ACLU and the ACLU of Florida filed a housing discrimination complaint on behalf of a domestic violence survivor alleging that a Florida landlord and management company violated the federal Fair Housing Act's prohibition on sex and familial status discrimination when they denied her housing application due to her refusal to provide her children's social security numbers.

Indigo Real Estate Services (2009)
WRP and the ACLU of Washington submitted an amicus brief in support of a domestic violence survivor who sought to substitute her initials for her full name in an eviction court record.

Lewis v. North End Village, et al. (2007)
WRP filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a domestic violence victim who faced eviction from her private apartment due to property damage caused by her abuser.

Boswell v. GumBayTay, et al. (2007)
WRP filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a tenant who was sexually harassed by her housing manager.

Bouley v. Young-Sabourin (2003)
WRP submitted an amicus brief in a federal lawsuit brought by a woman who received an eviction notice after her husband was arrested for assault.

Warren v. Ypsilanti Housing Commission (2002)
The ACLU represented a domestic violence victim who was threatened with eviction from public housing.

Alvera v. CBM Group, Inc., et al. (2001)
WRP co-counseled the first case to challenge the application of "zero-tolerance for violence" policies to victims of domestic violence.

 

FACTSHEETS

Victims of stalking, sexual assault or harassment, or intimate partner violence often bear the additional risks of housing instability, or policies that push them out of their homes. Learn more about housing discrimination faced by survivors of domestic violence and what can be done to fight these policies:

POLICY ADVOCACY

The ACLU advocates for the passage of legislation that would prevent housing discrimination against those who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, and other forms of gender-based violence. That includes efforts to strengthen the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Fair Housing Act and state laws.


BLOGS

Violence Against Women: Housing
Victims of gender-based violence too often face discrimination in housing, such as evictions or housing denials based on the violence they have experienced or sexual harassment by landlords and housing managers.Many local governments undermine both the safety and housing stability of victims of domestic violence when they enact local ordinances that penalize property owners and tenants when police respond to instances of domestic violence at a property.
Read more

 

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