This morning in the Federal Register, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a final rule implementing the requirements set forth in the Violence against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013). VAWA 2013 expanded protections to HUD programs beyond public housing and Section 8 tenant-based and project-based programs, while also enhancing protections and options for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
Today's 102-page VAWA final rule covers the expanded protections in VAWA 2013 to HUD programs beyond the previously covered public housing and Section 8 tenant and project-based vouchers, and enhances protections and options for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. In brief, the major provisions of the rule include:
- Specifying “sexual assault” as a crime covered by VAWA in HUD-covered programs.
- Establishing a definition for affiliated individual based on the statutory definition and that is usable and workable for HUD-covered programs.
- Applying VAWA protections to all covered HUD programs as well as the Housing Trust Fund, which was not statutorily listed as a covered program.
- Ensuring that existing tenants, as well as new tenants, of all HUD-covered programs receive notification of their rights under VAWA and HUD’s VAWA regulations.
- Establishing reasonable time periods during which a tenant who is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking may establish eligibility to remain in housing, where the tenant’s household is divided due to a VAWA crime, and where the tenant was not the member of the household that previously established eligibility for assistance.
- Establishing that housing providers may, but are not required to, request certain documentation from tenants seeking emergency transfers under VAWA.
- Providing for a six-month transition period to complete an emergency transfer plan and provide emergency transfers, when requested, under the plan.
- Revising and establishing new program-specific regulations for implementing VAWA protections in a manner that is workable for each HUD-covered program.
In addition to addressing the major provisions above, the VAWA final rule also includes as appendices a Notice of Occupancy Rights under the Violence against Women Act (Notice of Occupancy Rights) that certain housing providers must give to tenants and applicants to ensure they are aware of their rights under VAWA and implementing regulations, a model Emergency Transfer Plan that may be used by housing providers to develop their own emergency transfer plans, a model Emergency Transfer Request form that housing providers could provide to tenants requesting an emergency transfer under these regulations, and a new certification form for documenting incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking that must be used by housing providers. As stated in the final rule, these appendices will not appear in the Code of Federal Regulations.