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Housing Protections for
Victims of Domestic Violence

Posted August 4, 2015

Victims of domestic violence are often forced to choose between abuse and homelessness. If a victim of abuse does not have any other place to live, victims many times will stay with their abuser. Victims also face loss of housing and housing discrimination because of their abuser's behavior.

The Violence Against Women Act ("VAWA 2013") protects victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. In 2013, the law was expanded to provide more protections.

More People are Protected: VAWA 2013 covers victims of sexual assault in addition to victims of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. Also, VAWA 2013 now specifically protects Native American women, immigrants, LGBT victims, college students and youth.

Protections from Evictions:

Under VAWA 2013, victims cannot be denied housing in federal housing programs because of being a victim of violence. Victims also cannot be evicted from federal housing programs due to their status as victims or due to the actions of the abuser. VAWA 2013 also created emergency housing transfer options in all federal housing programs. Victims should be able to transfer to a different unit to have safer housing. Plans for these options are being developed by local housing authorities.

College Students

VAWA 2013 also protects college students. Schools must create a recording process for incidents of dating violence and report the findings. Schools also must create plans to prevent dating violence and educate victims on their rights, including the right to contact law enforcement.

Preferred Waiting Lists

Some public housing authorities and subsidized housing providers provide a preference to domestic violence victims on their waiting lists. Victims may be able to secure subsidized housing more quickly than if they were on the regular waiting list.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking, and you believe that you have been denied housing or that you are being evicted due to your abuser's action, you should seek legal counsel. Legal Aid provides assistance in some housing cases. Call Legal Aid at 1-888-817-3777 to apply for help.

By Abigail Staudt
and posted with permission of the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.

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