Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault from Housing Discrimination

Nationwide Standard that Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Victims Cannot be Evicted or Denied Housing Access Because they are Victims

On April 5, 2017, Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) reintroduced legislation to reduce barriers for domestic violence and sexual assault victims seeking housing.

The “Fair Housing for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Survivors Act” builds on the protections provided under the Violence Against Women Act of 2013 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

To track the bill and keep updated on the status click here.

The Act establishes “a nationwide standard that victims of domestic violence and sexual assault cannot be evicted or denied access to housing solely for being victims of those crimes.”

With the new protections in this legislation, the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Justice would have clear and direct authority to protect victims of domestic violence and sexual assault from housing discrimination.

The bill’s language also serves as a model for states to adopt their own protections.

“It’s unconscionable to think that someone could be evicted from their home—or outright denied housing—because they’ve experienced domestic violence or sexual assault… .Our bill would build on provisions in existing law that I championed to more broadly protect survivors, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to get it passed into law,” said Senator Franken.

Senator Shaheen said that the bill “would ensure that we are no longer punishing victims for the crimes committed against them, and would go a long way toward helping survivors recover and rebuild.”

Thirty-two organizations, including groups focusing on domestic violence, fair housing, and legal services have previously endorsed this effort, including:

Safe, affordable housing plays a key role in helping to protect survivors of domestic and sexual assault. Too many survivors of sexual assault become homeless, leaving them even more vulnerable to sexual victimization and exploitation.

Moreover, survivors often find themselves trapped in homes where they are further victimized by caregivers, parents, siblings, landlords, intimate partners, neighbors, or others in or near their home.

Senator Shaheen’s Press Release

Senator Franken’s Press Release.

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