Violence Against Women Act

A federal law that went into effect in 2013 protects individuals who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The name of the law is the Violence against Women Act, or “VAWA.”

 

This notice explains obligations under VAWA.

Protections for Applicants

If you otherwise qualify for assistance under the DETCOG Regional Housing Authority, you cannot be denied admission or denied assistance because you are or have been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Protections for Tenants

If you are receiving assistance under the DETCOG Regional Housing Authority, you may not be denied assistance, terminated from participation, or be evicted from your rental housing because you are or have been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

 

Also, if you or an affiliated individual of yours is or has been the victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking by a member of your household or any guest, you may not be denied rental assistance or occupancy rights under the DETCOG Regional Housing Authority solely on the basis of criminal activity directly relating to that domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

 

Affiliated individual means your spouse, parent, brother, sister, child, a person to whom you stand in the place of a parent or guardian (for example, the affiliated individual is in your care, custody, or control); or any individual, tenant, or lawful occupant living in your household.

Removing the Abuser from the Household

The DETCOG Regional Housing Authority may divide (bifurcate) your lease to evict the individual or terminate the assistance of the individual who has engaged in criminal activity (the abuser or perpetrator) directly relating to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

 

If you choose to remove the abuser or perpetrator, you may not take away the rights of eligible tenants to the unit or otherwise punish the remaining tenants. If the evicted abuser or perpetrator was the sole tenant to have established eligibility for assistance under the program, you must allow the tenant who is or has been a victim and other household members to remain in the unit for a period of time, in order to establish eligibility under the program or under another HUD housing program covered by VAWA, or, find alternative housing.

 

In removing the abuser or perpetrator from the household, DETCOG must follow Federal, State, and local eviction procedures. To divide a lease, DETCOG may, but is not required to, ask for documentation or certification of the incidence(s) of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Moving to Another Unit

Upon request, DETCOG may permit you to move to another unit, subject to availability, and still keep your assistance. To approve a request, DETCOG may ask you to provide documentation that you are requesting to move because of an incidence(s) of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. If the request is for emergency transfer, the housing provider may ask you to submit the request in writing or fill out a form to certify you meet the criteria for an emergency transfer under VAWA.

Permissible Evictions

You can evict a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking if you can demonstrate that there is an actual and imminent (immediate) threat to other tenants or employees at the property if the victim is not evicted. Also, you may evict a victim for serious or repeated lease violations that are not related to the domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. You cannot hold a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to a more demanding standard than you hold tenants who are not victims.

Documenting You Are or Have Been a Victim of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault or Stalking

DETCOG may, but is not required to, ask you to provide documentation to “certify” that you are, or have been, a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  DETCOG must make this request in writing, and give you at least 14 business days (Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays do not count) from the day you receive the request to provide the documentation. DETCOG may, but is not required to, extend the deadline for submission of documentation upon your request.

Confidentiality

DETCOG must keep confidential, any information you provide related to the exercise of your rights under VAWA, including the fact that you are exercising your rights under VAWA. DETCOG must not allow any individual administering assistance or other services on behalf of DETCOG (for example, employees and contractors) to have access to confidential information, unless for reasons that specifically call for these individuals to access this information under applicable Federal, State, or local law.

VAWA and Other Laws

VAWA does not limit your obligation to honor court orders regarding access to or control of the property. This includes orders issued to protect the victim and orders dividing property among household members in cases where a family breaks up.

 

VAWA does not replace any federal, state, or local law that provides greater protection for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Additional Information

If you have any questions regarding VAWA, please contact the PHA at 409-381-5262, Ext 5301.

 

HUD Notice PIH 2017-08 contains detailed information regarding VAWA’s certification requirements. The notice is available at https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/PIH-2017-08VAWRA2013.PDF

Definitions

For purposes of determining whether a public housing applicant or tenant may be covered by VAWA, the following list of definitions applies:

 

VAWA defines domestic violence to include felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by any of the following:

  • A current or former spouse of the victim

  • A person with whom the victim shares a child in common

  • A person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse

  • A person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies

  • Any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction

VAWA defines dating violence as violence committed by a person (1) who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim AND (2) where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors:

  • The length of the relationship

  • The type of relationship

  • The frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship

VAWA defines sexual assault as “any nonconsensual sexual act proscribed by Federal, tribal, or State law, including when the victim lacks capacity to consent” (42 U.S.C. 13925(a)).

 

VAWA defines stalking as engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others, or suffer substantial emotional distress.

HUD VAWA Forms

  • HUD-5380 Notice of Occupancy Rights Under the Violence Against Women Act

  • HUD-5382 Certification of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking, and Alternate Documentation

  • HUD-5383 Emergency Transfer Request for Certain Victims of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking

  • HUD-91067 Section 8 VAWA Lease Addendum

Additional Resources

Office: (409) 381-5262

Fax: (936) 632-5916

housing@detcog.gov

1405 Kurth Drive

Lufkin, Texas 75904-1929

©2020 by DETCOG Regional Housing Authority