TO:                Owners/Management Agents 
FROM:          Asset Management, Management & Development Division
SUBJECT:    HUD Announced VAWA Final Rule
DATE:           November 30, 2016
On November 16, 2016, HUD published the VAWA Final Rule in the Federal Register   implementing housing provisions under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. The rule codifies VAWA core protections to ensure that individuals are not denied assistance, evicted, or have their assistance terminated because of their status as victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, or for being affiliated with a victim.
The final rule expands the number of HUD programs subject to VAWA protections beyond residents of public housing and Section 8 tenant-based and project-based programs. The final rule extends VAWA protections to the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, the National Housing Trust Fund, Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly, Section 236 Rental Program, Section 811 Supportive Housing for People with Disabilities, Section 211(d)(3) Below Market Interest Rate Program, Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS, and McKinney-Vento homeless programs. The Low Income Housing Tax Credit and USDA Rural Housing properties are also subject to VAWA requirements per the 2013 reauthorization; however, Treasury and the Department of Agriculture have not yet issued regulations to implement VAWA protections under those programs.

The rule becomes effective on December 16, 2016.
Key elements of the final rule include:
  • Emergency transfers . One of the key elements of VAWA's housing protections are emergency transfers which allows victims of domestic and/or sexual violence to move to another safe and available unit if they fear for their life and safety. The final rule requires housing providers to allow for a victim to move immediately if there is another safe and available unit. The final rule includes a model emergency transfer plan, which is required and an emergency transfer request form. Housing providers will have until May 15, 2017 to develop an emergency transfer plan, provide emergency transfers and the associated recordkeeping and reporting requirements.
  • Requires housing providers to document request for emergency transfers , including the outcome of the request, and to report this to HUD annually.
  • Protections against the adverse effects of abuse. Domestic violence can often have negative economic and criminal consequences for a victim.  The final rule ensures that covered housing providers do not deny tenancy or occupancy rights based solely on these adverse factors that are a direct result of being a victim.
  • Third party documentation requirements are unnecessary. The final rule makes it clear that under most circumstances, a victim need only self-certify in order to exercise their rights under VAWA, ensuring third-party documentation does not cause a barrier in a person expressing their rights and receiving the protections needed to keep themselves safe.  The rule includes a certification form that may be used by covered housing providers.
  • Notification of Occupancy Rights under VAWA. Housing providers must provide the HUD prescribed "Notice" to applicants at time of denial of assistance and at the time of admission. Providers must provide the "Notice" to residents with any notification of termination of assistance and to current residents during the 12-month period following December 16, 2016, either during the annual recertification or lease renewal process, or, if there will be no recertification or lease renewal for a resident during the first year after the rule takes effect, through other means. HUD will be publishing the notice titled "Notice of Occupancy Rights under the Violence Against Women Act."
We anticipate that HUD will publish further instructions regarding the final rule as well as, the reporting and documenting requirements with regard to emergency transfers as outlined in the final rule.
Please use the Emergency Transfer Plan that is an attachment to the final rule to start developing your Plan so that you will be in compliance with HUD requirements no later than May 15, 2017 and that you will be providing requested emergency transfers by that date.
We will keep you posted when we know that the "Notice" is published and if HUD publishes any other guidance.
Please feel free to contact the Asset Manager who is assigned to your property or Marie for questions related to multifamily Section 8 project based properties or Ginny for questions related to the HOME Investment Partnership Program. Melanie will communicate how this final rule impacts the LIHTC program as soon as Treasury issues regulations.