HUD Issues VAWA Implementation Guidance for Owners of HUD-Assisted Housing
Following the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA) Guidance issued by HUD’s office of Public and Indian Housing in May, HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs recently issued its own guidance (Notice 2017-05) to owners and management agents of HUD-assisted multifamily housing regarding the final rule implementing VAWA. This guidance includes a summary of major changes to the multifamily housing programs, and the identified changes are the same as those found in the HUD’s Public and Indian Housing office’s guidance.
The guidance applies to properties assisted by the Project-based Section 8, Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly, Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities, Section 236 Multifamily Housing, and Section 221(d)(3) Below Market Interest Rate programs. And among the topics covered by the Notice are: (1) who may receive VAWA protections; (2) VAWA lease addendums; (3) notices of occupancy rights; (4) victim confidentiality; (5) emergency transfers; (6) family breakup; (7) lease bifurcation; and (8) establishing waiting list preferences.
According to the notice, the Office of Multifamily Housing will soon issue an updated form HUD-91067, “VAWA Lease Addendum,” which will include the additional provisions required in the final rule. The updated lease provisions will include updated definitions and information regarding VAWA protections, documentation of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking occurrences, and remedies available to victims. When issued, all owners and agents will be required to use this updated form when providing or modifying a lease.
Items to Consider When Developing VAWA Policies
The notice also provides a framework to assess a site’s current VAWA policies. Review the following items or questions under specific VAWA-required categories to assess the thoroughness of your site’s policies and to shore up categories that you may have overlooked.
> Certification and Documentation
- During the first year, how will the owners provide the VAWA Notice of Occupancy Rights (form HUD-5380) and Certification form (HUD-5382) to each household?
- How and where will the VAWA forms be made available?
- Will the owners ask for documentation when an individual presents a claim for VAWA protections, and if so, under what circumstances?
- How will the owners define the term “other evidence”?
- Will the owners require submission of documentation within 14 business days?
- Under what conditions will an extension of the 14-business day period for submitting documentation be allowed?
- How long will owners take to acknowledge receipt of documentation?
> Victim Confidentiality
- Who will have access to VAWA information?
- How will information be stored and secured?
- How will information be accessed?
- Who are the owners’ VAWA points of contacts for tenants?
- How will owners determine appropriate communications with victims?
- What procedures will owners undertake to ensure others will not overhear conversations with victims?
- Will victims be required to come into a management office?
- Will owners suggest that a victim designate a point of contact for communications?
> Emergency Transfer Plan
- What efforts will owners make to assist a tenant or household who requests an internal emergency transfer or external emergency move?
- Will owners accept verbal certification or require a written transfer request?
- Will owners require the use of the emergency transfer request form HUD-5383?
- Will owners make additional efforts to assist a tenant who wishes to make an internal emergency transfer (such as by providing a moving van)? (Under the VAWA regulation, the owners’ Emergency Transfer Plan must allow a tenant to make an internal emergency transfer under VAWA when a safe unit is immediately available.)
- Will owners make arrangements, including memoranda of understanding, with other HUD-funded owners to facilitate external moves?
- Will owners provide contact information for local service providers?
- Will the owners conduct outreach activities to organizations that assist or provide resources to victims?
- Will owners develop partnerships with domestic violence victim advocates, legal aid services, and law enforcement agencies to further VAWA protections?
- Will owners invite domestic violence victim advocates to speak to resident groups and employees?
- Will owners create pamphlets, posters, and other media to help inform applicants, tenants, and participants about the VAWA protections available to them?
- Will owners offer any activities, services, or programs either directly or in partnership with other service providers to enhance victim safety?
- Will owners offer any domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking prevention programs?
> Conflicting Claims of Abuse
- What will owners do in cases of conflicting third-party documentation?
- Will hearings include a trained third party with experience in adjudicating domestic violence cases?
> Waiting List Preferences
- Will owners adopt an admissions preference for victims seeking an external emergency move from another HUD-funded housing?
- What priority will be given to victims?
- Will owners treat HUD tenants who are victims looking for an external emergency move the same or different than other victims not previously assisted under a HUD covered housing program?
- Will owners limit the preference to persons referred by a partnering service organization or consortia of organizations?
- Are there state or local laws that provide greater protections than those provided under VAWA that an owner should be made aware of?
> Other Considerations
- What actions will owners consider to reduce or eliminate an “actual or imminent” threat?
- Will owners offer lease bifurcation?
- Under what circumstances would a perpetrator who was evicted/terminated from assistance or convicted of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking be allowed to rejoin the household upon request of the family?