HousingVAWA Federal Provisions / Protections
The following housing protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual abuse of a child, dating violence and stalking were enacted through the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 and apply to federally funded “covered housing programs”. Public housing authorities, owners and managers of participating in the covered housing programs must comply with VAWA 2013.
Covered Housing Programs
“Covered housing programs” have been expanded to include HUD (public housing, Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, 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 Investment Partnerships program, Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS, and McKinney-Vento Act programs), Department of Agriculture (Rural Development (RD) multifamily housing programs), and Department of Treasury (Low-Income Housing Tax Credit-LIHTC) housing programs.
Denials of admissions, termination of tenancy or assistance
An applicant or tenant may not be denied admission to, denied assistance under, or terminated from participation in housing on the basis that the applicant or tenant is or has been a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking.
A tenant may not be evicted from housing on the basis that the tenant is or has been the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking.
A victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking may not be denied assistance, tenancy or occupancy rights to housing solely on the basis of criminal activity directly related to the abuse. Further, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking cannot have their housing assistance terminated based on their status as a victim unless there is an actual or imminent threat to other tenants or employees at the property.
VAWA does not prevent tenants from being evicted for reasons unrelated to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence or stalking.
PHAs, owners, or managers cannot subject a victim to a more demanding standard than other tenants when determining whether to evict or terminate assistance.
Consistency with Court Order Provisions
Public Housing Authorities (PHAs), owners, and managers of “covered housing programs” must honor civil protection orders and other court orders from domestic violence and family court judges that address the rights of access to or control of the property and distribution or possession of property among household members in a case.
Ability to Bifurcate Leases
PHAs, owners, and managers of the “covered housing programs” may evict, remove, or terminate the assistance of the offender while allowing the victim, who is the tenant or lawful occupant, to remain without penalty.
In addition, tenants who remain in the housing as a result of lease bifurcation and thus lose eligibility to receive the housing assistance, will have the opportunity to establish eligibility for the assistance. If the victim cannot establish eligibility, then the PHA, owner, or manager must provide the tenant reasonable time to find new housing or to establish eligibility under another “covered housing program.”
Portability of Section 8 Vouchers
Victims of domestic violence, dating violence or stalking using the Section 8 Voucher may transfer their voucher to another jurisdiction if safety is a concern, even if moving would otherwise terminate their lease. Public housing residents can request an emergency transfer to another PHA not within the same jurisdiction. The PHA may permit the family to move even if the family’s lease term has not yet expired.
Portability is not extended to victims of sexual assault.
VAWA 2013 mandates that each federal agency adopt a model emergency transfer plan to be used by PHAs, owners, or managers of housing assisted under the “covered housing programs.” This transfer plan must allow survivor tenants to transfer to another available and safe dwelling unit assisted under a “covered housing program” if: 1) the tenant expressly requests the transfer and 2) either the tenant reasonably believes that the tenant is threatened with imminent harm from further violence if the tenant remains within the same unit, or where the tenant is a victim of sexual assault and the sexual assault occurred on the premises within 90 days before the transfer request. HUD must establish policies and procedures under which a victim requesting an emergency transfer may receive a tenant protection voucher.
PHAs, owners, and managers may request that the victim provide certification that an incident of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence or stalking has occurred. Any requests for certification must be made in writing. Once certification is requested, an applicant or tenant has 14 days to provide the documentation to the PHA, owner, or manager. If the documentation is not provided within the 14 days, the PHA, owner, or manager may deny admission or assistance, terminate the assistance or bring eviction proceedings for good cause. The PHA, owner, or manager may extend this timeframe.
Types of Certification
- PHAs, owners, and managers may use their own discretion when and how to request an individual certify that they are a victim. PHAs, owners, and managers may apply the VAWA protections to an individual based solely on the individual’s statement or other evidence.
- PHAs, owners, and managers may accept documentation signed by a victim and mental health professional in which the professional attests under penalty of perjury.
- PHAs, owners, and managers may request the victim submit the HUD-approved form (HUD-50066 or HUD-91066).
- A victim may provide an administrative record to document the abuse instead of providing the certification form. An administrative record includes documentation signed by the victim and a victim service provider, an attorney, a medical professional, or a mental health professional in which the professional attests under penalty of perjury to his or her belief that the victim has experienced an incident of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking that meets the grounds for protection under the statue.
- The applicant or tenant may also provide documentation from a federal, state, tribal, territorial, or local law enforcement, court or administrative record.
PHAs, owners, or managers must keep confidential the information an individual provides to certify victim status, including the individual’s status as a victim. The information cannot be entered into a shared database or disclosed to another entity or individual, unless the disclosure is: requested or consented to the individual in writing, required for use in an eviction proceeding to determine whether the incident qualifies as a serious or repeated violation of the lease, good cause to terminate assistance or tenancy, or criminal activity directly relating to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking, or otherwise required by law. Emergency transfer plans must incorporate reasonable confidentiality measures to ensure that PHAs, owners, and managers do not disclose the location of the new unit to the abuser.
Notification & Language Access
PHAs, owners, or managers of the “covered housing programs” must develop a notice of VAWA housing rights (HUD notice), which includes the right of confidentiality for applicants and tenants. They must also provide the HUD notice accompanied by the agency-approved self-certification form at the time an applicant is denied residency, the individual is admitted, and with any notification of eviction or termination of assistance. The HUD notice must be made available in multiple languages and meet the requirements concerning language access for individuals with limited-English proficiency.
Public Housing Authorities in Texas
Public Housing Authorities in Texas
There are Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) across the state. To locate the PHA in your area go to: www.hud.gov. Public housing is available to eligible low-income families and individuals.
PHAs determines your eligibility based on:
- Annual gross income; Whether you qualify as elderly, a person with a disability, or as a family U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status Note: Families with mixed immigration status are eligible for assistance at a prorated rent, calculated by the number of eligible family members. In addition, victims and their children with either a prima facie or approved VAWA self-petition are eligible for federal housing subsidies.
- The availability of subsidized housing and vouchers in a given area vary. Some PHAs give “preference” (priority on the wait list) to certain groups of individuals, including victims of domestic violence.
Some Public Housing Authorities provide self-sufficiency programs including:
Resident Opportunities & Self-Sufficiency (ROSS) ROSS links public housing residents with supportive services, resident empowerment activities, and assistance in becoming economically self-sufficient.
Public Housing Family Self–Sufficiency (PH FSS) PH FSS links residents with training opportunities, job placement organizations, and local employers
Texas State Housing Laws / Protections
Texas State Housing Laws / Protections
- Eviction Protection: Tenant’s Right To Summon Police Or Emergency Assistance in Response to Family Violence
- Lease Termination: Right To Vacate And Avoid Liability Following Family Violence
- Texas Property Code 92.016
- 30-Day Notice to Vacate for Family Violence Victims
- 30-Day Notice to Vacate for Sexual Assault Victims
- Immediate Termination of a Lease: If the family violence is committed by a cotenant or occupant of the dwelling, a tenant may terminate the lease without a 30-day written notice. (Texas Property Code Section 92.016 (c-1)
Texas Fair Housing Act
- The Texas Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, religion, color, sex, national origin, disability or familial status and applies to discrimination in the sale or rental of housing and mortgage lending. The Act also precludes all persons from taking any action to limit one’s exercising of their rights under the Act.
- Sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, is prohibited under the Fair Housing Act. Recent case law has found negative actions taken against a woman because she is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence or stalking is considered discrimination in certain instances. The Fair Housing Act may apply if a woman is evicted, denied a housing benefit or denied rental housing by a landlord after the landlord learned she was a victim.
- Survivors of sexual assault or family violence who have disabilities may be entitled to reasonable accommodations in rules or policies to ensure safety from their abuser or attacker.
- Discrimination complaints may be filed through the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division.
- Domestic Violence in Foreclosure: The Foreclosure Process, Defenses and Alternatives for Survivors
- Enhancing Advocacy for Domestic Violence Survivors by Coordinating Domestic Relations and Foreclosure Cases
U.S. Department on Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – www.hud.gov
National Housing Law Project – www.nhlp.org
National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty – www.nlchp.org
Texas Law Help – www.texaslawhelp.org
Legal Momentum – www.legalmomentum.org
TCFV Policy Team – 800-525-1978 or 888-239-9035 (TTY)
TAASA Policy Team – 512-474-7190 ext. 38
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