Safe Homes, Safe Communities

A Guide for Local Leaders on Domestic Violence and Fair Housing

Document Date: April 25, 2015

One in three women experiences domestic violence in her lifetime, resulting in physical injury, economic distress, psychological trauma, and even death. Domestic violence is a nationwide crisis that wreaks havoc on the lives of victims and their families, and has far-reaching consequences for entire communities. One such consequence is that survivors are at heightened risk for homelessness and housing insecurity, due to factors including discrimination, loss of employment, economic abuse leading to poor credit history, and survivor’s need to be in a home that is secure from their abuser. This guide recommends best practices for local leaders to promote fair housing for DV survivors in their communities.

This guide is written for municipal, county, and state leaders who influence the policies of their communities with respect to housing, emergency shelter, policing, and social services. Advocates can also use this guide to strengthen how their community addresses the housing needs of survivors.

The guide covers the following topics:

Information about the federal and state laws affecting housing for domestic violence survivors
Best practices for promoting fair housing for domestic violence survivors, including information on how to:
Incorporate domestic violence considerations into local housing planning;
Protect domestic violence victims’ access to effective police assistance;
Protect domestic violence survivors’ rights in rented or owned homes;
Collaborate with and support the efforts of domestic violence service providers; and
Protect public housing and Section 8 housing tenants.

By vigilantly safeguarding the housing rights of domestic violence survivors, municipalities can protect not only the survivors, but entire communities from the disastrous consequences of DV and housing insecurity.


In addition to the Safe Homes, Safe Communities guide, the following are useful resources for local leaders to learn more about domestic violence and fair housing, their obligations, and affirmative ways to protect domestic violence survivors.

State Laws

Nat’l Hous. Law Project, Hous. Rts of Domestic Violence Survivors: A State and Local Law Compendium (2014)
Residential Tenant’s Right to Seek Police and Emergency Assistance Law, Minn. Stat. § 504B.205 (2014)
Protection for victims of abuse or crime, 53 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 304 (2014)

Municipal Laws

Monroe County Code §§ 260-1 & 260-2
Westchester County Code §§ 700.02, 700.05, & 700.21
S.F., Cal., Admin. Code ch. 37, § 9

Federal Guidance and Information on Federal Requirements

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013: Overview of Applicability to HUD Programs, 78 Fed. Reg. 47717 (Aug. 6, 2013)
Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013: Implementation in HUD Housing Programs, Docket No. FR-5720-P-02 (proposed March 25, 2015) (to be codified at 24 CFR pts. 5, 92, 200, 574, 576, 578, 880, 882, 883, 884, 886, 891, 960, 966, 982-83)
Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Proposed Rule, 78 Fed. Reg. 43,710, 43,712 (proposed July 19, 2013) (to be codified at 24 CFR pts. 5, 91, 92, 570, 574, 576, and 903)
U. S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, PHA Programs and Policies Working to Prevent Homelessness Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence PHA Domestic Violence Guide
Karlo Ng, Rural Development Issues Notice on VAWA Implementation, 44 Housing Law Bulletin 69 (2014)
Gideon Anders & Karlo Ng, VAWA 2013 Implementation Updates, 44 Housing Law Bulletin 154 (2014)
Karlo Ng, Rural Development Issues Revised VAWA Implementation Notice, 45 Housing Law Bulletin 38 (2015)

Information on Briggs v. Norristown

Matthew Desmond & Nicol Valdez, Unpolicing the Urban Poor: Consequences of Third-Party Policing for Inner-City Women, 78 Am. Sociological Rev. 117 (2013)
Emily Werth, Sargent Shriver Nat’l Ctr. On Poverty Law, The Cost of Being Crime Free: Legal and Free Rental Housing and Nuisance Property Ordinances 5-20 (Aug. 2013)