The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a landmark piece of legislation that seeks to improve criminal justice and community-based responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. Since enacted in 2013, the Providence Housing Authority (PHA) worked to ensure the agency best served those covered by the new rule. The Federal Final Rule came out in December of 2016. At that time, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued policy guidance regarding VAWA that, used in conjunction with the full Rule, shape the PHA’s policies and procedures.
To read the full PHA Policy on VAWA, click here.
Emergency Transfers for Current Residents
The PHA is concerned about the safety of its tenants, and such concern extends to tenants who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Despite the name of this law, VAWA protection is available to all victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, regardless of sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
In accordance with VAWA, we allow tenants who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to request an emergency transfer from the tenant’s current unit to another unit. The ability to request a transfer is available regardless of sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The ability of the PHA to honor such request for tenants currently receiving assistance, however, may depend upon a preliminary determination that the tenant is or has been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and on whether we have another unit that is available and safe for temporary or more permanent occupancy.
Eligibility for Emergency Transfers
A tenant who is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, as provided in HUD’s regulations at 24 CFR part 5, subpart L is eligible for an emergency transfer, if the tenant reasonably believes that there is a threat of imminent harm from further violence if the tenant remains within the same unit. If the tenant is a victim of sexual assault, the tenant may also be eligible to transfer if the sexual assault occurred on the premises within the 90-calendar-day period preceding a request for an emergency transfer.
A tenant requesting an emergency transfer must expressly request the transfer in accordance with the procedures described below.
Tenants who are not in good standing may still request an emergency transfer if they meet the eligibility requirements in this section.
Emergency Transfer Request Documentation
To request an emergency transfer, a tenant should notify their Property Management Office and submit a written request for a transfer to Jacqueline Martinez, 100 Broad Street, Providence, RI 02903. The PHA will provide reasonable accommodations to this policy for individuals with disabilities. The tenant’s written request for an emergency transfer should include either:
- A statement expressing that the tenant reasonably believes that there is a threat of imminent harm from further violence if the tenant were to remain in the same dwelling unit assisted under HP’s program; OR
- A statement that the tenant was a sexual assault victim and that the sexual assault occurred on the premises during the 90-calendar-day period preceding the tenant’s request for an emergency transfer.
The PHA will keep confidential any information that the tenant submits in requesting an emergency transfer, and information about the emergency transfer, unless the tenant gives HP written permission to release the information on a time limited basis, or disclosure of the information is required by law or required for use in an eviction proceeding or hearing regarding termination of assistance from the covered program. This includes keeping confidential the new location of the dwelling unit of the tenant, if one is provided, from the person(s) that committed an act(s) of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking against the tenant. See the PHA’s Notice of Occupancy Rights under VAWA for more information about the PHA’s responsibility to maintain the confidentiality of information related to incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
Emergency Transfer Timing and Availability
The PHA cannot guarantee that a transfer request will be approved or how long it will take to process a transfer request. We will, however, act as quickly as possible to move a tenant who is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to another unit, subject to availability and safety of a unit. If a tenant reasonably believes a proposed transfer would not be safe, the tenant may request a transfer to a different unit. If a unit is available, the transferred tenant must agree to abide by the terms and conditions that govern occupancy in the unit to which the tenant has been transferred. We may be unable to transfer a tenant to a particular unit if the tenant has not or cannot establish eligibility for that unit.
If the PHA has no safe and available units for which a tenant who needs an emergency is eligible, we will assist the tenant in identifying other housing providers who may have safe and available units to which the tenant could move. At the tenant’s request, we will also assist tenants in contacting the local organizations offering assistance to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking that are attached to this plan through our Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) programming.
Safety and Security of Tenants
Pending processing of the transfer and the actual transfer, if it is approved and occurs, the tenant is urged to take all reasonable precautions to be safe.
As mentioned above, the PHA has a plethora of resources located on-site for victims of crime such as sexual assault, stalking or domestic violence. To learn more about these programs or resources, contact Melissa DaRosa at 401-709-2820 or MDarosa@provhousing.org.
- Tenants who are or have been victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or a local domestic violence shelter, for assistance in creating a safety plan. For persons with hearing impairments, that hotline can be accessed by calling 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).
- Tenants who have been victims of sexual assault may call the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network’s National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE, or visit the online hotline at https://ohl.rainn.org/online/.
- Tenants who are or have been victims of stalking seeking help may visit the National Center for Victims of Crime’s Stalking Resource Center.