Providing Unique Services for Survivors of Domestic Violence

Housing and domestic violence are inextricable issues. Women Against Abuse reports that  domestic violence survivors fill 37 percent of family shelter beds.

With shelters, safe havens, and transitional housing facilities often full and with long-term housing options dwindling, Regional Housing Legal Services recognizes that housing is a key tool for survivors in breaking the cycle of abuse.

Director of Economic Development, Laura Schwartz, has worked closely with Women Against Abuse on multiple projects including on renovations to their transitional housing facility, Sojourner House, as well as on a brand new 100 bed shelter slated to open in 2015.

Renovations to Sojourner House, a transitional housing for survivors of domestic violence. Photo courtesy of Women Against Abuse.

RHLS also recognizes the importance of housing policy changes to protect survivors of domestic violence and their families.

With our partners at Community Legal Services, Regional Housing advocated for changes to Pennsylvania’s 2013 Qualified Allocation Plan, which now requires owners of Low Income Housing Tax Credit properties to certify that they have not evicted a tenant on the basis of domestic violence alone.

Survivors of domestic violence can now challenge an eviction on these grounds in court and an LIHTC owner may risk tax benefits if the eviction does not meet “good cause” requirements.

Prior to this crucial policy victory, a survivor of domestic violence residing in an LIHTC development could be evicted due to a violent disturbance caused be an abuser, victimizing a resident twice.

RHLS Executive Director, Mark Schwartz, and Managing Attorney, Judy Berkman, and our partners at Community Legal Services researched the issue and advocated for this change for over three years.

If you’re interested in learning more about protection for survivors of domestic violence that live in Low Income Housing Tax Credit facilities, check out this article from Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law published in March of 2013 that discusses RHLS’ important advocacy work on this issue.

If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic violence or you’re looking to find additional resources, please contact the following:

Domestic Violence 24 Hotlines

Philadelphia 1-866-723-3014

Pittsburgh 1-412-687-8005

Register Today!- Judy Berkman to present at Rebuilding Homeownership Forum

Regional Housing Legal Service’s Judy Berkman will  present at the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania’s Rebuilding Homeownership in a Challenging Market Forum for Southeastern Pennsylvania on Monday, September 22nd.

Hosted by Wells Fargo Bank at their Center City Philadelphia location, the invitation describes the forum as follows:

Rebuilding Homeownership is a series of ½ day (morning) regional informational forums designed to start a conversation about homeownership, products and services to address new lending rules, partnerships and collaboration that mitigate risk, innovations and creative approaches to CRA (Community Reinvestment Act). It brings together lenders, the public sector and nonprofits to share information, explore new solutions, air frustrations, and most importantly, to spur new action that renews the American dream of homeownership that is both prudent and fruitful. 

The forum will be held from 8:30 AM – 11:30 AM. Lenders, bankers, CRA officers, housing and service providers, public officials, and realtors are encouraged to attend.

Click Here to register for the event and view the agenda. We hope to see you there!


HEMAP ALERT Important Changes Effective July 1, 2014


Effective July 1, 2014, the 36-month provisions of the HEMAP law will change back to 24-months due to the drop in Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate.  (See attached flyer.)

For applications received by PHFA on or before June 30, 2014, homeowners will be eligible for HEMAP if they are up to 36 months behind on their mortgage payments.  And they will still have 36 months to get their financial affairs in order and resume full payments on their mortgages, applications received after June 30, 2014 will be subject to the shorter 24 month limit.  Further, the maximum monthly contribution for homeowners participating in HEMAP is currently 35% of net effective income, but that ratio will change to 40% effective for applications received by PHFA on or after July 1, 2014.

HEMAP applications received by PHFA on or before June 30, 2014, will receive the more generous 36-month and the 35% net effective income ratio provisions. Applications received on or after July 1, will receive the shorter 24 month and higher 40% net effective income ratio provisions.


HEMAP flyer (June 2014)