Federal, State, and Local Laws and Protections

Awareness of the laws that provide housing protections for survivors enhances our ability to be effective advocates.

= web resource    = downloadable file

VAWA 2013 Sexual Assault Housing Protections

National Alliance to End Sexual Violence

VAWA 2013 includes historic public housing protections for victims of sexual assault. Building on housing protections for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking in VAWA 2005, VAWA 2013 added new protections and specifically adds victims of sexual assault and “affiliated individuals to the victim” as protected groups. These housing protections are available to victims of sexual assault now. This paper summarizes those protections.

Safe Homes, Safe Communities: A Guide For Local Leaders On Domestic Violence And Fair Housing

2015
ACLU

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. 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.

Breaking the Cycle of Homelessness: Ensuring Housing & Educational Stability for Survivors of Domestic Violence and their Children

Michael Santos
National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty

A comprehensive presentation that includes information about housing protections for survivors as well as protections for children and youth. Provides guidance toward best practices with these populations.

Public Housing Occupancy Guidebook - Chapter 19: Domestic Violence

2003
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

This Guide is designed to assist public housing authority staff and HUD with a range of issues related to public housing occupancy, from application for admission and rent calculations through ongoing occupancy to lease termination. The guidebook is intended to provide a handy reference for all aspects of admissions and occupancy administration. This chapter is intended to establish a framework for the relationship between public housing agencies, victims of domestic violence who reside in public housing, and the domestic violence providers who may facilitate measures PHAs can employ to combat the problem.

Addressing Discriminatory Housing Barriers For Victims of Domestic Violence: A Toolkit for Advocates

2015
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Federal and state laws provide protections and remedies that can preserve survivors' housing. This toolkit provides advocates with information about how to help victims of domestic violence keep their housing. The tool kit draws from state-specific as well as federal law protections, including the Violence Against Women Act; Fair Housing Act; and the United States Constitution.

Assisting Survivors of Domestic Violence in Applying for Housing

2009
National Housing Law Project

This manual was created for advocates and attorneys working with survivors of domestic violence who are applying for housing. Efforts to help survivors find housing are crucial, as housing instability is a major obstacle for survivors who are seeking to end abusive relationships or to avoid returning to their abusers. The manual provides background information and sample documents that can be used to advocate on behalf of survivors who are seeking housing. The goal of this Manual is to make housing issues more accessible and easily understandable to advocates, regardless of their prior knowledge of housing law.

Leaving One’s Home to Escape an Abuser: A Brief Overview of Renter’s Protections

2015
National Housing Law Project

Survivors who rent their homes, particularly low-income survivors living in federally subsidized housing, may be hesitant to leave their homes out of fear of losing access to affordable housing. Other survivors living in market‐rate housing may fear the financial penalties associated with ending a lease early. This article  discusses select protections that may be available to survivors who wish to leave their rental units immediately for safety.

District of Columbia Survivor Toolkit

2015
District Alliance for Safe Housing

If you are a survivor of domestic violence, there are laws that give you rights. This Toolkit will let you know what they are if you want to stay in your apartment, move out, or find another place to live — whether it’s a shelter, apartment, or house. This toolkit tells you: (1) What to do if you need to find safe housing, (2) What to do if you want to stay where you are, (3) What to do if you want to leave your home, (4) Where the rights come from, and (5) Who can help you. The Toolkit also gives you sample demand letters you might need and a glossary that explains some terms you might not know.

Access to DV Services for Immigrant Survivors and Individuals with Limited English Proficiency

2013
Ambar Cristina Hanson
Rosario de la Torre

The objectives of this presentation are to: Provide demographic information; Promote a Human Rights perspective in addressing domestic violence; Provide information about the rights of individuals with Limited English Proficiency (LEP); Provide information about access to services for undocumented immigrants according to federal laws; and to discuss how to improve our advocacy efforts in these areas.

Federal Housing Rights of Survivors with Limited English Proficiency: An Information Packet

2015
Karlo Ng
Renee Williams
National Housing Law Project

The National Housing Law Project created this information packet for programs serving limited English proficient (LEP) survivors of domestic or sexual violence, dating violence, or stalking who are seeking to access or maintain federally-assisted housing. This packet gives an overview of the federal housing rights of LEP individuals and discusses how these protections apply to survivors.

Access to DV Services for Immigrant Survivors and Individuals with Limited English Proficiency

2013
Ambar Cristina Hanson
Rosario de la Torre

The objectives of this presentation are to: Provide demographic information; Promote a Human Rights perspective in addressing domestic violence; Provide information about the rights of individuals with Limited English Proficiency (LEP); Provide information about access to services for undocumented immigrants according to federal laws; and to discuss how to improve our advocacy efforts in these areas.

National Housing Law Project: Trainings and Webinars

National Housing Law Project

The National Housing Law Project provides webinars and trainings on a variety of topics relevant to programs working to provide safe housing for survivors. This link allows access to recorded versions and powerpoint slides of trainings on housing rights and protections for survivors, VAWA 2013 housing provisions, subsidized housing, credit and housing access, and many more.

Lost Housing, Lost Safety: Survivors of Domestic Violence Experience Housing Denials and Evictions Across the Country

2007
National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty
National Network to End Domestic Violence

Many victims and their children lose their homes when they flee abuse. In addition, many domestic violence survivors become homeless after being evicted from or denied housing as a result of the violence against them. The results of a recent national survey by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP) and the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) demonstrate the extent of these evictions and denials of domestic violence victims, thereby adding to existing cases and stories.

Protections Delayed: State Housing Finance Agency Compliance With The Violence Against Women Act

2017
Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

Even though the 2013 VAWA reauthorization explicitly required that LIHTC providers comply with VAWA, the Department of the Treasury has issued no regulations or guidance on implementation for the LIHTC program. This report, issued by a national coalition comprised of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, National Housing Law Project, American Civil Liberties Union, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, and Regional Housing Legal Services, finds that the inaction on the part of the Treasury Department has led to significant state-by-state variation in the implementation of VAWA protections in the LIHTC program. This in turn has a substantial impact on the level of protection afforded to survivors.

2017 Advocates' Guide

2017
National Low Income Housing Coalition

An educational primer on federal programs and resources related to affordable housing and community development. Includes chapters on the National Housing Trust Fund, special housing issues (including housing needs of survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking), and information on tools and types of housing programs.

HUD Exchange

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

HUD Exchange provides resources, assistance, and information to support the work of HUD's partners in local communities. Includes tools for grantees and Continua of Care (CoCs), information about governance, Fair Housing, and links to various types of housing assistance.

Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Final Rule

2016
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

This link provides useful background to a legal requirement that federal agencies and federal grantees further the purposes of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. HUD's AFFH rule aims to assist communities in taking meaningful actions to overcome historic patterns of segregation, promote fair housing choice, and foster inclusive communities that are free from discrimination and address disparities in housing needs and in access to opportunity.

Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

The mission of the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) is to eliminate housing discrimination, promote economic opportunity, and achieve diverse, inclusive communities. This website provides rich information about these rights for consumers, and includes a link to file a fair housing complaint online.

Guidance on Application of Fair Housing Act Standards to the Use of Criminal Records

2016
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Many formerly incarcerated individuals, as well as individuals who were convicted but not incarcerated, encounter significant barriers to securing housing, including public and other federally-subsidized housing, because of their criminal history. In some cases, even individuals who were arrested but not convicted face difficulty in securing housing based on their prior arrest. In the U.S., African Americans and Hispanics are arrested, convicted and incarcerated at rates disproportionate to their share of the general population. Consequently, criminal records-based barriers to housing are likely to have a disproportionate impact on minority home seekers. HUD’s Office of General Counsel issues this guidance concerning how the Fair Housing Act applies to the use of criminal history by providers or operators of housing and real-estate related transactions.

2013 Advocates' Guide to Housing and Community Development Policy

2013
National Low Income Housing Coalition

The National Low Income Housing Coalition publishes this guide in order to educate advocates of all kinds about the programs and policies that make housing affordable to low income people. The Guide includes an orientation to affordable housing and community development programs, explains how affordable housing works and why it is needed, and provides vital information to guide organizations and individuals in their advocacy efforts. Also includes information about the core affordable housing programs and policies that make housing and community development programs work on the ground.

Equal Access Self-Assessment for Shelters and Projects

2016
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

This self-assessment is a spreadsheet that projects can use to figure out their top priorities for improving policies and procedures as regards implementation of the Equal Access Rule on transgender status and gender expression. Projects can assess their own inclusivity through answering a series of questions. The tool generates the top three action steps based on those responses. Users can re-assess their performance periodically to continue operational improvement.

Equal Access for Transgender People: Supporting Inclusive Housing and Shelters

David Canavan
Fran Ledger
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Individuals and families seeking services from HUD funded homeless projects have nowhere else to go. Too many LGBT youth and adults meet this standard and have nowhere to turn other than a HUD funded project. Acknowledging their need for assistance and seeking help is often its own struggle for those who have sacrificed much simply to recognize themselves. Transgender individuals in particular are impacted by violence and discrimination in ways that both contribute to their homelessness and keep them from accessing necessary shelter and services. HUD funds welcoming and inclusive housing programs open to all eligible individuals; the Equal Access Rule and follow-up guidance ensure that local projects know how to implement and enforce this requirement. These training materials provide CoCs and projects with the framework to create welcoming and inclusive projects for transgender and gender non-conforming people.

LGBT Homelessness

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

This section of the HUD Exchange establishes a central clearinghouse of resources for the LGBT community, including information on and links to HUD's Equal Access Rule and program guidance, a toolkit on supporting transgender-inclusive projects, information on HUD's initiative for the community-wide prevention of LGBT youth homelessness, and links to LGBTQ resources and research reports.

HUD LGBT Rule Webinar

2012
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

This YouTube webinar is a training on HUD's final rule, Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity (also know as the HUD LGBT Rule) implemented in 2012. The webinar includes an overview of the final rule provisions, examples and analysis of possible rule violations, and information on where someone would go for assistance if the rule is being violated.

Community-Based Advocates, Trauma Informed Lens & Legal Protections

2016
District Alliance for Safe Housing

This presentation adresses how advocates can enhance thier ability to work with domestic violence survivors and minimize compassion fatique by incorporating a trauma informed framework; understand the local and federal shelter/housing legal protections victims have in the District of Columbia; understand the legal protections to help ensure program compliance; and increase awareness of tools available to assist survivors to utilize the protections afforded to them.

Community-Based Advocates Toolkit: How to Make Sure Your Clients Have Safe Housing

2015
District Alliance for Safe Housing

Under local and federal laws, survivors have housing rights and remedies meant to ensure access to shelter or housing, and safety in their homes or their current housing situation. This toolkit addresses  the most common questions asked and scenarios faced by domestic violence and homeless advocates in the District of Columbia. It contains information to help advocates understand the basic housing rights of domestic violence survivors and provides guidance to help survivors exercise these rights.

District of Columbia Survivor Toolkit

2015
District Alliance for Safe Housing

If you are a survivor of domestic violence, there are laws that give you rights. This Toolkit will let you know what they are if you want to stay in your apartment, move out, or find another place to live — whether it’s a shelter, apartment, or house. This toolkit tells you: (1) What to do if you need to find safe housing, (2) What to do if you want to stay where you are, (3) What to do if you want to leave your home, (4) Where the rights come from, and (5) Who can help you. The Toolkit also gives you sample demand letters you might need and a glossary that explains some terms you might not know.

Equal Access Self-Assessment for Shelters and Projects

2016
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

This self-assessment is a spreadsheet that projects can use to figure out their top priorities for improving policies and procedures as regards implementation of the Equal Access Rule on transgender status and gender expression. Projects can assess their own inclusivity through answering a series of questions. The tool generates the top three action steps based on those responses. Users can re-assess their performance periodically to continue operational improvement.

Preventing Homelessness: What Advocates Need to Know - Legal Protections for Survivors

2015
Shakeita Boyd
District Alliance for Safe Housing

Objectives for this presentation are to: Explore systemic level strategies to help prevent people from becoming homeless: Discuss VAWA protections for survivors on a local and federal level; and discuss homelessness prevention and practical strategies that can be used by advocates to assist survivors with maintaining their housing.

Addressing Discriminatory Housing Barriers For Victims of Domestic Violence: A Toolkit for Advocates

2015
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Federal and state laws provide protections and remedies that can preserve survivors' housing. This toolkit provides advocates with information about how to help victims of domestic violence keep their housing. The tool kit draws from state-specific as well as federal law protections, including the Violence Against Women Act; Fair Housing Act; and the United States Constitution.

Public Housing Occupancy Guidebook - Chapter 19: Domestic Violence

2003
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

This Guide is designed to assist public housing authority staff and HUD with a range of issues related to public housing occupancy, from application for admission and rent calculations through ongoing occupancy to lease termination. The guidebook is intended to provide a handy reference for all aspects of admissions and occupancy administration. This chapter is intended to establish a framework for the relationship between public housing agencies, victims of domestic violence who reside in public housing, and the domestic violence providers who may facilitate measures PHAs can employ to combat the problem.

Housing Policy and Systems Advocacy for Domestic Violence Survivors

2013
Catherine Trapani

 The presentation includes: the intersection of homelessness and domestic violence and the need for creative advocacy; how to craft a housing advocacy plan for your community; where federal and state housing policy “sits” at the local level and how to influence its implementation; and strategies for choosing partners in your plan to advocate for meaningful solutions.

Addressing Housing Barriers for Survivors of Domestic Violence in Colorado: A Toolkit for Advocates

2017
Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Discriminatory housing practices by landlords, local laws, and public housing agencies can contribute greatly to survivors' homelessness and can often force a survivor to choose between homelessness and staying with an abusive partner. Advocates and local programs have an important role to play in reducing barriers to housing and advocating for survivors to maintain or find affordable housing. This toolkit is designed to assist advocates in better understanding federal and state law housing protections, survivor rights, options for housing, and how to work with your local public housing authorities and landlords to better serve survivors.

Maintaining Safe and Stable Housing for Domestic Violence Survivors: A Manual for Attorneys and Advocates

2012
Meliah Schultzman, et al.
National Housing Law Project

This Manual is designed for advocates and attorneys assisting domestic violence survivors who are at risk of losing their housing or who need to improve the safety of their housing. Survivors often return to abusive partners because they cannot maintain safe and secure housing on their own. As a result, housing advocacy is a critical part of holistic services for domestic violence survivors. The purpose of this Manual is to provide background information and sample documents that can be used to advocate on behalf of survivors facing evictions, rental subsidy terminations, and other forms of housing instability.