HUD Publishes VAWA Forms for Public Comment
HUD recently modified and published four model forms required by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA) and the implementing regulations. The latest update to VAWA occurred in March 2022 when President Biden signed into law the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022. With this update, VAWA expanded protections for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. We’ll review the federal protections and housing rights of survivors and cover the changes proposed to the HUD-issued VAWA forms.
Despite the name of the law, VAWA protections apply to survivors regardless of gender. VAWA’s housing protections include:
- A prohibition on being evicted from or denied participation in a federal housing program for being a domestic violence survivor;
- Allowing housing providers to “bifurcate” or split a tenancy so that the abuser is removed from the household, without evicting or penalizing the survivor. In removing the abuser from the household, you must follow federal, state, and local eviction procedures;
- Confidentiality requirements for housing providers, such as prohibiting placing information about a survivor’s domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking in a shared database;
- The ability to request an emergency transfer to another safe and available federal housing program unit; and
- Requiring receipt of a written notice of rights under VAWA upon admission, denial of housing, or notice of eviction/subsidy termination–including notification in non-English languages.
Applicable Housing Programs
HUD is required to provide owners participating in the following housing programs with certain model documents. VAWA, as currently implemented, covers the following HUD programs:
- Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly;
- Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities;
- Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program;
- HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) program;
- Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program;
- Continuum of Care (CoC) program;
- Multifamily rental housing under section 221(d) of the National Housing Act with a below-market interest rate;
- Multifamily rental housing under section 236 of the National Housing Act;
- Public Housing;
- Housing Choice Voucher program;
- Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation Single Room Occupancy program; and
- Housing Trust Fund.
Modified VAWA Forms
HUD has published drafts of the revised forms for the public to see the changes and allow for 60 days of public comment. The revised forms and notice can be found at www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2022-11-04/pdf/2022-24070.pdf.
HUD-5380: VAWA Notice. This notice provides information to applicants and households of their rights under VAWA. Owners must distribute to tenants and denied applicants. HUD has modified this form by streamlining language and using additional plain language.
The purpose of this notice is to explain that VAWA provides protections for tenants of HUD-assisted housing programs and for people applying for housing assistance who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. It reminds households that these protections can be raised at any time. Applicants for assistance can’t be denied admission or assistance, and existing tenants can’t be denied assistance, terminated, or evicted because they are or have been victims.
The Notice of Occupancy Rights also makes clear that if a person or an “affiliated individual,” such as a spouse, parent, or sibling, is or has been victimized by a member of the household or a guest, the victim may not be denied rental assistance or occupancy solely based on criminal activity directly related to that domestic violence. A housing provider may divide a lease in order to evict or terminate the assistance of someone who engaged in criminal activity directly related to domestic violence, while enabling the victim and others in the household to remain.
HUD-5381: Model Emergency Transfer Plan. The model Emergency Transfer Plan explains that a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking may request an emergency transfer to another unit. Someone is eligible for an emergency transfer if she reasonably believes that there’s a threat of imminent harm from further violence.
HUD provides this form for owners, but housing providers have the option of using or developing their own emergency transfer plans. Under HUD’s modifications, a note has been added stating that simply using the model plan without program-specific alterations won’t meet the requirement for an emergency transfer plan.
The form adds an “Emergency Transfer Policies” section, clarifying that the housing provider must specify its individual policies for different categories of transfers, such as internal transfers when a safe unit is and is not immediately available and external transfers. The form also adds a “Priority for Transfer” section, requiring owners to detail the measure of any priority given to tenants who qualify for an emergency transfer and to describe policies for ensuring that VAWA-related requests for internal emergency transfers receive any priority that owners might already provide to other types of emergency transfer requests.
HUD-5382: VAWA Certification. This Certification of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking, and Alternate Documentation is completed by any household member who’s seeking VAWA protection while residing at your site. An individual has the option of using this form to certify that she is a victim or provide documentation from a third party. The revised version includes more information about reasonable accommodations. A reasonable accommodation related to this form may include, for example, allowing an oral statement instead of written documentation, or an extension of time to submit the requested documentation. In addition, HUD added a warning for making false submissions to ensure users of the form are aware of the legal nature of submitting false information to an entity when seeking access to federal funds.
HUD has made it clear that under most circumstances, a survivor need only to self-certify in order to exercise her rights under VAWA, ensuring third-party documentation doesn’t cause a barrier to a survivor in expressing her rights and receiving the protections needed to keep herself safe. This form asks the person completing the form to: (1) state that an applicant or tenant is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking; (2) state that the incident that’s the ground for protection meets the requirements under the statute; and (3) include the name of perpetrator, if the name is known and safe to provide.
HUD-5383: Emergency Transfer Request. This is a model form to accept requests for emergency transfers. Owners have the discretion to distribute it to tenants and applicants. This form allows an individual to submit a request for an emergency transfer and certify that she is a victim. The “Confidentiality” section has been updated to include more plain language and put individuals on notice of confidentiality protections. HUD has also added information about family members in household, current address, best method of contact, what type of transfer is being requested, what features they want to request in a safe unit, and optional documentation to include with form.
Information Collection Activities
In addition to the changes to the above forms, HUD’s notice seeks approval for additional information collection activities.
Emergency transfer reporting. HUD is seeking to require owners to keep a record of all emergency transfers requested under its emergency transfer plan, and the outcomes of such requests, and retain these records for a period of three years, or for a period of time as specified in program regulations. Requests and outcomes of such requests must also be reported to HUD annually. HUD proposes to standardize this collected information with the following fields:
- Total number of VAWA Emergency Transfer Requests;
- Number of requests that resulted in Internal Transfers;
- Number of requests that resulted in External Transfers;
- Number of requests yet to be placed;
- Number of approved Emergency Transfer requests that resulted in no transfer;
- Number of requests that did not qualify for Emergency Transfer and were denied; and
- Length of time needed to process Emergency Transfers.
Emergency transfer policy adoption. HUD is also seeking information to be collected annually about the extent to which housing authorities, owners, and managers have adopted VAWA emergency transfer policies and the effectiveness of those policies. Collected information will include the following:
- Type of covered housing;
- The VAWA emergency transfer plan;
- Information about whether the emergency transfer plan is publicly available;
- The number of emergency transfer requests that were received over the last three years;
- The outcome of emergency transfer requests over the last three years;
- Whether a waiting list preference is available for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking;
- Information about collaborations or coordination with consortiums or other providers for purposes of providing housing and certain services;
- Whether a VAWA service coordinator exists; and
- Whether a VAWA lease bifurcation policy exists.