HUD rules now protect the housing rights of all persons who have been victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and this rule seek to assure the basic human right to be free from violence and abuse. Victims cannot be discriminated against on the basis of any protected characteristics (including race, color, religion, sex or sexual orientation, disability, familial status, national origin, or age). (1)
Stalking means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to: (1) Fear for the person’s individual safety or the safety of others; or (2) Suffer substantial emotional distress. (2)
HUD’s recognizes the importance of providing housing protections and rights to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. By increasing opportunities for all individuals to live in safe housing, this will reduce the risk of homelessness and further HUD’s mission of utilizing housing to improve quality of life.
This final rule implements in HUD’s regulations the requirements of the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which applies for all victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, regardless of sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation, and which must be applied consistent with all nondiscrimination and fair housing requirements. The 2013 reauthorization (VAWA 2013) expands housing protections to HUD programs beyond HUD’s public housing program and HUD’s tenant-based and project-based Section 8 programs (collectively, the Section 8 programs) that were covered by the 2005 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA 2005). Additionally, the 2013 law provides enhanced protections and options for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
If an individual meets all eligibility requirements and complies with all occupancy requirements, the individual cannot be denied assistance or have assistance terminated solely on the basis that the individual is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault.
(1) Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013: Implementation in HUD Housing Programs
(2) § 5.2003