HUD Creating a Plan to Help Abuse Victims Move to a ‘Safe Dwelling’

Susan Jones
August 14, 2013

( – The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 — signed into law by President Obama on March 7, 2013 — requires the Department of Housing and Urban Development to create a “model emergency transfer plan” for tenants who are victims of domestic violence.

People who live in subsidized housing and are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking must be allowed to transfer to another “available and safe dwelling” if they request it. The goal is to help people escape abuse without becoming homeless.

The public housing agency or owner of the subsidized housing must also “incorporate reasonable confidentiality measures” to ensure that the abuser does not learn the victim’s new address.

According to the notice published in the federal register, “The tenant can be granted a transfer only if the tenant requests a transfer, and either the tenant reasonably believes he or she is threatened with imminent harm from further violence if he or she remains in the unit or, if the tenant is a sexual assault victim, the sexual assault occurred on the premises during the 90-day period preceding the transfer request.”

Any transfer is “subject to the availability of other assisted housing and subject to all other HUD requirements being met.”

In cases where the abuser is the only person in the household who is eligible for subsidized housing, the victim must be given a chance to establish his or her own eligibility.

If the victim is not eligible for the housing, VAWA 13 says the victim must be given “reasonable time” to find new housing or establish eligibility under another housing program. The notice in the federal register says HUD is also accepting comments on what constitutes a “reasonable time” for victim to find new housing or establish eligibility under another HUD covered housing program.

VAWA 2013, among other things, enhances judicial and law enforcement tools to combat violence against women; improves services for victims; enhances
services, protection, and justice for young victims of violence; strengthens the health care system’s response to violence against women; and expands protections for Native American women and immigrants.