Violence Against Women Act & Cooperatives
Creighton Gallup, Esq

When HUD published their final rule on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization of 2013 (VAWA), which became effective on December 16, 2016,  housing providers faced some new guidelines on how to handle issues relating to this topic. 

VAWA covers victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking regardless of the person’s, sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation.   One of the important aspects of this ruling is to ensure that victims of a VAWA crime are not denied assistance as an applicant or evicted due to having been a victim of a VAWA crime. This ruling must be applied consistently and with all nondiscrimination and fair housing requirements.

As with most government programs, housing providers, including Cooperatives, must comply with certain measures.  At first glance, they may seem simple, but each section has several parts to it.  These include:

Notice of Occupancy Rights
Emergency Request Form
Emergency Transfer Plan

Certification Documents of Incidents of VAWA Crimes

To make things easier for housing providers, HUD has created sample forms in Word that can be modified to fit a housing provider’s current situation.  These forms are available on HUDCLIPS:

VAWA Appendix A:  Notice of Occupancy Rights, form HUD-5380
VAWA Appendix B:  Model Emergency Transfer Plan , form HUD-5381
VAWA Appendix C:  Certification of Domestic      Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking and Alternate Documentation, form HUD-5382
VAWA Appendix D:  Emergency Transfer Request for Certain Victims of Domestic Violence, Dating  Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking, form HUD-5383

Applicants/Members should receive the Notice of Occupancy Rights at the time the applicant is denied assistance/admission under a covered housing program; at the time the individual is provided assistance/admission under the program; with any notification of eviction/notification of  termination of assistance; and during the 12-month period following the effective date of December 16, 2016,  either during annual recertification or the lease renewal process.  If none of these apply, the individual should receive the notice during the first year after the ruling takes effect—December 15, 2017.

Next is the Emergency Request Form.  The victim must state in writing that he/she is a victim of a      VAWA crime; the incident that is being used as grounds for protection; and include the name of the person who committed the VAWA crime if known and safe to  provide.

The Emergency Transfer Plan actually works in     conjunction with the Emergency  Request Form.     Cooperatives offer two types of    transfers:  internal and external.  In an internal     transfer, individuals may move to a new unit without being considered as a new applicant.  The individual does not have to go through the application process.; however, in  external transfers, individuals are treated as new applicants and must undergo the application process.  Cooperatives must have plans in place if there are no units for an internal transfer.  These may include agreements with other facilities or organizations who can assist these victims.

To qualify as a victim of a VAWA crime, an individual must submit some type of documentation stating that he/she is a victim of such crime.  If  individuals do not provide documentation within 14 days, they may be denied assistance under the program; however, the Cooperative has the option of extending the 14 days.  If  a person who committed the crime is asked to leave a housing development, he/she has a certain amount of time to find a new residence.  Housing providers may also split a lease, allowing one resident to stay and requesting the other resident to leave.

Confidentiality with VAWA records remains key.  A selected group should have access to these records.  Reports need to be filed with HUD annually. The ruling covers much more than this space permits, and Cooperatives would benefit from going to hud.com for more information.