The House Judiciary Committee approved new legislation on March 13 that would reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). NMHC and NAA strongly support the goals of VAWA and have worked tirelessly over the years to ensure that victims of domestic violence are provided the protections they need and deserve, including robust requirements to preserve and obtain housing for victims. However, we have serious concerns over several new measures in the legislation, which greatly expands the existing housing measures.
Specifically, the new measures broaden the scope of the law to include new housing programs not previously subject to the Act’s requirements, imposes new resident screening provisions and changes emergency transfer requirements.
NMHC, NAA and other the real estate groups sent a letter to the committee outlining concerns with the legislation. While well-intentioned, the new housing section represents a substantial shift in housing policy and, in some cases, runs contrary to current housing regulations. Furthermore, the legislation expands emergency transfer provisions, allowing “internal” and “external” transfers. In the coalition letter to Congress, we make the point that transfers are dependent on typical market factors, like the availability of a vacant unit. “Importantly, privately-owned, federally assisted housing properties are generally single asset entities and have no ability to “transfer” a tenant to another owner entity’s property. Project-Based Rental Assistance and Low-Income Housing Tax Credit units are not portable due to fundamental program restrictions.”
Further action is expected in both the House and Senate this Spring. NMHC and NAA will keep members informed on this legislation as it progresses. For more information on NMHC and NAA’s past efforts regarding VAWA, please visit our advocacy page.