Part 4 - Crucial VAWA Questions Answered by HUD

HUD's recent explanation of its VAWA regulation provides guidance for HUD programs and a safe harbor for tax credit properties. This series discusses several of the key questions answered by the HUD VAWA final rule. NOTE: The regulation can be found HERE and are referenced in these articles starting with VAWA 2016 Fed.Reg. and then by page numbers of the PDF from the Federal Register found at the above link. The Rural Development follow-up is HERE.

Question 9: Must sexual assault have occurred on a property to be covered by VAWA?

Answer: No. If an assault occurred on a property, a victim has an automatic right to a transfer to a unit where the victim will feel safe if they request the transfer within 90 days of the assault. However, other provisions of VAWA apply to all victims of sexual assault, regardless of where the assault happened. HUD further says,"a tenant or an applicant may be a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking regardless of whether the act was perpetrated by a tenant living on the property, or whether the act occurred on the property grounds, or, in cases of sexual assault or stalking, whether the tenant knows the perpetrator." (VAWA 2016 Fed.Reg. 80739)

Question 10: Does the 90 days mentioned above end the time that a victim of sexual assault has to claim VAWA victim status?

Answer: No. It is simply a deadline to seek VAWA protections and automatically qualify for an emergency transfer because of sexual assault that occurred on the property. The victim retains the right to request a transfer at any time "if they reasonably believe there is threat of imminent harm from further violence if they remain in their unit, regardless of where or when the sexual assault occurred" and to claim other relevant VAWA protections. (VAWA 2016 Fed.Reg. 80753)

Question 11: Sadly, we had a case where a man with a gun forced a teen resident into his car and forced the resident off-site, severely beat him and sexually assaulted him in a nearby wooded area. Does this qualify as a sexual assault occurring on site for purposes of VAWA emergency transfer rights?

Answer: That is unfortunate to hear. Of course VAWA attempts to address situations that are often very painful. With respect to a victim who was attacked by a perpetrator on the grounds of a housing provider but dragged from the property and sexually assaulted elsewhere HUD tells us that this "should be considered as meeting the VAWA requirements for a sexual assault occurring on the premises." HUD finds that this situation would meet the requirement "because, in essence, the start of the assault occurred on the premises." (VAWA 2016 Fed.Reg 80753)

Next time: "Are the 14-day and 30-day deadlines for victims to provide documentation to establish VAWA eligibility based on business or calendar days?" ...and more!
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