The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued this guidance making it clear that residents who are denied or evicted from housing as a result of domestic violence may have basis to file a discrimination complaint with HUD under the federal Fair Housing Act. HUD's guidance states that while the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides some protections to victims of abuse who experience housing discrimination, the Fair Housing Act provides authority for HUD to investigate whether the denial or eviction violates the Act based on gender or another federally-protected basis.
Under the guidance, HUD will review claims of discrimination from victims of domestic violence to determine if there is sufficient evidence to apply the Fair Housing Act to those complaints. For example, a landlord refusing to accept women with a history of domestic violence because they may return to abusive men may violate the Fair Housing Act's prohibition against gender discrimination. Similarly, a "zero-tolerance" policy for criminal activity, under which an entire household may be evicted for the criminal act of one household member, may have a disparate impact on women because they are the overwhelming majority of domestic violence victims. Evicting women for the violent acts of their abusers may violate the Fair Housing Act.
Additionally, the guidance provides examples of recent housing discrimination cases and explains how VAWA protects victims of domestic violence from denial, eviction and termination from public housing and the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8).
The Department's domestic violence forms, HUD form 91066, "Certification of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence or Stalking" and HUD form 91067, "Lease Addendum - Violence Against Women and Justice Department Reauthorization Act of 2005," are available in 14 different languages on HUD's Limited English Proficiency Web site.