Help for Domestic Violence Victims Living in Federally Subsidized or Public Housing
Woman: Good morning everyone. Today we have a special visitor. Some of you have been worried about housing issues, so Attorney Smith is here from legal services to talk to us.
Attorney Smith: Good morning, I know some of you have been having problems with your housing because of domestic violence. I’m here to answer any questions you have. Who wants to start?
Narrator: If you are facing eviction because of domestic violence…
Debbie: Hi. My name is Debbie. I live in public housing. The housing authority is trying to evict me because my ex-husband was arrested at my apartment.
Attorney Smith: Tell me what happened. Is he on the lease?
Debbie: No he’s not. He just showed up at my apartment one night, mad about something. He started smashing things and he hit me a few times too. A neighbor called the cops. He was arrested and he’s in jail now. But the landlord gave me eviction papers because of what happened.
Attorney Smith: OK. I’m sorry to hear that. I want you to know that your landlord cannot evict you for this. Since you live in public
housing, your landlord cannot evict you in this station because you are a victim of domestic violence.
But your landlord might be able to evict you if they can show that other tenants or employees are in danger. It sounds to me like that
isn’t the case since your ex is in jail right now.
Debbie: Thanks. That makes me feel so much better.
Attorney Smith: So you should tell your land that you’re a victim of domestic violence. You can’t be evicted because you’re protected by VAWA.
Debbie: What’s VAWA?
Attorney Smith: VAWA is the Violence Against Women Act. It’s a law that says if you’re living in federally funded housing or have a
federal subsidy like HUD or Section 8, your landlord cannot evict you for being a victim of domestic violence.
Narrator: If you are in danger of losing public housing or your Section 8 voucher because of domestic violence…
Bonnie: My name is Bonnie. I have a federal Section 8 voucher, but I’m going to lose it because of domestic violence. Does VAWA protect me?
Attorney Smith: Why don’t you tell me what happened?
Bonnie: Had the same type of situation as Debbie. My boyfriend’s not on the lease. He came to my apartment drunk last week and started making a lot of noise. I told him to be quiet, and started throwing things at me. I locked myself in the bathroom and called the cops. The cops came and he was arrested. He doesn’t have a place to live right now so he told the cops he lives at my address. Now Section 8 wants to take my voucher away because the think he lives with me. He doesn’t live with me and never has. I think he’s been using my address for other things too but I’ve been too afraid to tell him to stop.
Attorney Smith: How many apartments are in your building?
Debbie: It’s a three-family house.
Attorney Smith: Does the landlord live there?
Attorney Smith: VAWA will protect you. It protects people in all types of homes except some single family homes. Also, if the
owner lives in the house and there are fewer than four apartments, VAWA will not protect you. since you live in a three-family home and your landlord doesn’t live there, you are protected. You need to tell Section 8 that you’re a victim of domestic violence, and that your boyfriend doesn’t live with you. Tell them that he was using your address because you were too scared to tell him not to.
Debbie: OK, thanks.
Narrator: If you are being denied public housing or a Section 8 voucher because of domestic violence…
Attorney Smith: Does anyone else have questions?
Emma: Hi, I’m Emma. I don’t actually live in public housing or have Section 8 right now, but I’ve applied. I got to the top of the waiting list for public housing. I was denied because my boyfriend got violent.
Attorney Smith: OK. What do you mean?
Emma: A few months ago, I was living with my boyfriend. He has a drug problem. He got really mad one day and I had to call the police on him. They came and arrested both of us because he told the cops I had been threatening him. My lawyer says that the charges against me will be dropped because I was a victim of domestic violence. But since the case is still pending, housing denied me because they say I have a criminal history.
Attorney Smith: If you were a victim they can’t deny you based on that. You should call your Legal Services office for help with an
Narrator: If you want to have your partner evicted from your apartment because of domestic violence…
Theresa: I’m Theresa. I have a question. Will VAWA help me get my husband off our lease?
Attorney Smith: What do you mean?
Theresa: My husband and I live in public housing and we’re both on the lease. I have a protective order against him right now. I want my landlord to evict him and take him off the lease so he can’t come back.
Attorney Smith: Yes, you can ask your landlord to do that. Your landlord can split your lease in two and evict just your husband. They just need to go through the normal eviction process. Some landlords may ask for proof of domestic violence.
Theresa: How do I prove that?
Attorney Smith: There are a few ways to prove domestic violence. Your landlord can just take your word for it. If they want proof, they have to ask you for it in writing. They can ask you to fill out one of their forms. You can also give them a copy of the protective order from the court. If you have a copy of the police report, you can give them that too. You can also give them a written statement called an affidavit that you get notarized. This means that you are swearing to the truth of what you put in the statement. This statement can be written by you, someone who works at a domestic violence program, a medical provider, or your lawyer. You have 14 days to give the landlord this proof, but you can ask for more time if you need it. Your landlord has to keep this information private unless he or she needs it to evict your husband.
Theresa: OK. Thank you.
Narrator: If you need to break your lease because of domestic violence…
Mary: Hi, I’m Mary. Right now I have Section 8. My ex-husband is stalking me and threatening to kill me. I need to move, but my landlord won’t let me break the lease. Section 8 also says I can’t move because this is my first year with the voucher.
Attorney Smith: OK. VAWA will help you. VAWA says you can break a Section 8 lease without the landlord’s permission if it is for your protection, even if this is your first year in the program.
Attorney Smith: OK, everyone our time is up. I hope I answered all of your questions!
For assistance in the Metro Atlanta area, contact: Atlanta Legal Aid
Atlanta Bar Association - Lawyer Referral & Information Service 404-521-0777
For assistance outside Metro Atlanta, contact:
Georgia Legal Services Program 1-800-498-6469
For more information, visit: GeorigaLegalAid.org
Statewide Legal Services
With the support of New Haven Legal Assistance Association
Funded by a grant from Legal Services Corporation
Script by: Elizabeth Pisarski-Buchholz
Produced by: Kate Geruntho Frank
In order of appearance: Carmen Saldana, Elizabeth Pisarski-Buchholz,
Deborah Cook, Blanca Troche, Emma Lopez, Theresa Sanford, Mary Boeger,
Already There (No Vocals) by Josh Woodward is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution License. Based on a work at http://www.joshwoodward.com
Thank you to Statewide Legal Services for donating the original
content of this video.
Produced by: Atlanta Legal Aid Society
Funded by a Technology Initiative Grant from the Legal Services Corporation
Developed by Gab Rich & Kirstin Nelson Verrill