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Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) protects tenants and family members of tenants who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking from being evicted or terminated from housing assistance based on acts of such violence against them. These provisions apply both to public housing agencies administering housing and Section 8 programs and to owners renting to families under Section 8 rental assistance programs.

VAWA Notice to Applicants,

Tenants, and Participants

The federal government is drafting an approved notice explaining your rights under VAWA. In the meantime, this notification is a temporary explanation of those rights.

The Violence Against Women Act, or “VAWA”, is a federal law that provides legal protections to individuals (man or woman) who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking (collectively referred to as “violence” in this notice). Among other things, VAWA provides the following protections to victims of violence who receive publicly assisted housing benefits:

Who is Covered

VAWA protections extend to you if the victim of the violence is:

  • You;
  • Your spouse, parent, brother, sister, or child (including a step-child or foster child); or
  • Any individual, tenant, or lawful occupant living in your household.

In the language of VAWA, these people are “affiliated” with you.

Protections for Victims

If you or an affiliated person is a victim of violence, you may not be denied assistance, evicted, or have your assistance terminated because of the violence you or the affiliated person experienced. Keene Housing (KH) and your property manager may not:

  • Deny you housing assistance because you or an affiliated person is a victim of violence.
  • Terminate your housing assistance or evict you because of threats or violence committed against you or an affiliated person.

You may only be evicted or terminated on the basis of violence against you or an affiliated person if there is an actual threat to other tenants or employees at the property if you remain in your unit.

Certification

If you request protection under VAWA, KH or your property manager may request verification that you or an affiliated person is a victim of violence. If so, you will be required to submit one of the following:

  • Fill out a HUD-approved form, which you can request from any KH staff
  • Provide a police report or court record
  • Have a professional person whom you consulted about the violence provide documentation.

You must deliver one of the certifications above within 14 business days after you receive a request for certification or you cannot claim protection under VAWA. If KH has reason to believe that the certification is incomplete or inaccurate, KH may require additional third-party documentation of the incident.

Confidentiality

KH and your property manager must keep confidential any information you provide about the violence against you, unless:

  • You give written permission to KH or your property manager to release the information.
  • Your property manager needs to use the information in an eviction proceeding, such as to evict your abuser.
  • A law requires KH or your property manager to release the information.

If release of the information would put your safety at risk, you should inform KH and your property manager.

Remedies

If you or an affiliated person is a victim of violence, you may request that KH or your property manager take one of the following actions:

  • If a member of your household has committed criminal acts of violence against you or another household member, the property manager may split the lease and allow you to stay in the unit.
  • KH can terminate the abuser’s housing assistance while allowing you to continue to receive assistance if you are eligible for assistance.
  • The housing authority may permit you to move and still keep your housing assistance, even if your current lease has not yet expired and/or the new location is outside of KH’s jurisdiction (for HCV households).

For Additional Information

If you are a KH resident or voucher participant and would like additional information about KH’s policy regarding VAWA, please see KH VAWA Policy.

For help and advice on escaping an abusive relationship, call the Monadnock Crisis and Prevention Center Hotline at 1-888-511-MCVP (6287).

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