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  • Writer's pictureLaurie Frappier

VAWA reauthorization means increased housing protections

In March of this year, President Biden signed into law the VAWA Reauthorization Act of 2022 as part of the Omnibus appropriations package. The VAWA was originally passed in 1994 and reauthorized three times before it lapsed in 2018. The measure provides housing solutions to support domestic violence and sexual assault victims. Since VAWA first took effect, incidents of domestic violence and sexual assault have declined significantly and efforts to increase access to services, healing, and justice for survivors have improved with each iteration. According to the White House, this 2022 reauthorization of VAWA strengthens this landmark law and reauthorizes funding to enforce and support the initiatives.

The VAWA reauthorization includes several housing protections for federally subsidized residents. A federally subsidized resident includes someone who lives in a public housing project, has a Section 8 voucher, or lives in a rental unit that receives federal housing assistance.

Prevents residents from being denied housing or from being evicted because they are the victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
  • Protects the right to report crimes from their home.

  • Expands covered housing programs

  • Enhances protections for survivors of violence by improving compliance review processes in federally assisted housing, ensuring no survivor is denied housing access or evicted from their current housing because of the crime committed against them.

  • Amends the federal definition of “homelessness” provided in the “McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act” to include the experiences of survivors escaping or attempting to escape domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking.

  • Establishes a VAWA Housing Director position at HUD to help coordinate the department’s response to survivors of violence.

Other notable VAWA protections from the reauthorization include:

  • Funding of all current grant programs which will allow communities to provide critical services to survivors, as well as the right tools and training to make sure that responses to these crimes are survivor-centered and trauma-informed.

  • Expansion of criminal jurisdiction of Tribal courts to cover non-Native perpetrators of sexual assault, child abuse, stalking, sex trafficking, and assaults on tribal law enforcement officers on tribal lands.

  • Increasing services and support for underserved populations, including culturally specific communities, LGBTQ+ survivors, individuals with disabilities, immigrant survivors, older adults, and victims in rural communities, among others.

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