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