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Domestic Violence Protections (VAWA)

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013) expands housing protections for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Changes under VAWA 2013 include extending protections to survivors of sexual assault; allowing survivors who remain in the unit to establish eligibility or find new housing when a lease is bifurcated; providing survivors with emergency transfers; and additional notification to applicants and tenants of housing rights under VAWA. While these changes substantially extend VAWA's coverage to include most affordable housing programs, they provide no protection to tenants in private market-rate housing but do apply to tenants with vouchers in private market-housing.

NCH will provide all protection under VAWA 2013 to program participants and family members of program participants who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking from being evicted or terminated from housing assistance based on acts of such violence against them. 

Learn more about VAWA & download forms here >


North Charleston Housing Notice of Occupancy Rights under the Violence Against Women Act

To all Tenants and Applicants

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides protections for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. VAWA protections are not only available to women, but are available equally to all individuals regardless of sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the Federal agency that oversees that Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program is in compliance with VAWA. This notice explains your rights under VAWA. A HUD-approved certification form is attached to this notice. You can fill out this form to show that you are or have been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and that you wish to use your rights under VAWA."

Protections for Applicants

If you otherwise qualify for assistance under Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, you cannot be denied admission or denied assistance because you are or have been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Protections for Tenants

If you are receiving assistance under Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, you may not be denied assistance, terminated from participation, or be evicted from your rental housing because you are or have been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Also, if you or an affiliated individual of yours is or has been the victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking by a member of your household or any guest, you may not be denied rental assistance or occupancy rights under the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program solely on the basis of criminal activity directly relating to that domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Affiliated individual means your spouse, parent, brother, sister, or child, or a person to whom you stand in the place of a parent or guardian (for example, the affiliated individual is in your care, custody, or control); or any individual, tenant, or lawful occupant living in your household.

Removing the Abuser or Perpetrator from the Household

North Charleston Housing may divide (bifurcate) your lease in order to evict the individual or terminate the assistance of the individual who has engaged in criminal activity (the abuser or perpetrator) directly relating to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. 

If North Charleston Housing chooses to remove the abuser or perpetrator, North Charleston Housing may not take away the rights of eligible tenants to the unit or otherwise punish the remaining tenants.  If the evicted abuser or perpetrator was the sole tenant to have established eligibility for assistance under the program, North Charleston Housing must allow the tenant who is or has been a victim and other household members to remain in the unit for a period of time, in order to establish eligibility under the program or under another HUD housing program covered by VAWA, or, find alternative housing. 

In removing the abuser or perpetrator from the household, North Charleston Housing must follow Federal, State, and local eviction procedures.  In order to divide a lease, North Charleston Housing may, but is not required to, ask you for documentation or certification of the incidences of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Moving to Another Unit

Upon your request, North Charleston Housing may permit you to move to another unit, subject to the availability of other units, and still keep your assistance. In order to approve a request, North Charleston Housing may ask you to provide documentation that you are requesting to move because of an incidence of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. If the request is a request for emergency transfer, the North Charleston Housing may ask you to submit a written request or fill out a form where you certify that you meet the criteria for an emergency transfer under VAWA. The criteria are:

  1. You are a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. If North Charleston Housing does not already have documentation that you are a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, North Charleston Housing may ask you for such documentation, as described in the documentation section below.
  2. You expressly request the emergency transfer. North Charleston Housing may choose to require that you submit a form, or may accept another written or oral request.
  3. You reasonably believe you are threatened with imminent harm from further violence if you remain in your current unit. This means you have a reason to fear that if you do not receive a transfer you would suffer violence in the very near future.

    OR

    You are a victim of sexual assault and the assault occurred on the premises during the 90-calendar-day period before you request a transfer. If you are a victim of sexual assault, then in addition to qualifying for an emergency transfer because you reasonably believe you are threatened with imminent harm from further violence if you remain in your unit, you may qualify for an emergency transfer if the sexual assault occurred on the premises of the property from which you are seeking your transfer, and that assault happened within the 90-calendar-day period before you expressly request the transfer.

North Charleston Housing will keep confidential requests for emergency transfers by victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and the location of any move by such victims and their families.

North Charleston Housing's emergency transfer plan provides further information on emergency transfers, and North Charleston Housing must make a copy of its emergency transfer plan available to you if you ask to see it.

Documenting You Are or Have Been a Victim of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault or Stalking

North Charleston Housing can, but is not required to, ask you to provide documentation to "certify" that you are or have been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Such request from North Charleston Housing must be in writing, and North Charleston Housing must give you at least 14 business days (Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays do not count) from the day you receive the request to provide the documentation. North Charleston Housing may, but does not have to, extend the deadline for the submission of documentation upon your request.

You can provide one of the following to North Charleston Housing as documentation.  It is your choice which of the following to submit if North Charleston Housing asks you to provide documentation that you are or have been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

  • A complete HUD-approved certification form given to you by North Charleston Housing with this notice, that documents an incident of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. The form will ask for your name, the date, time, and location of the incident of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and a description of the incident.  The certification form provides for including the name of the abuser or perpetrator if the name of the abuser or perpetrator is known and is safe to provide.
  • A record of a Federal, State, tribal, territorial, or local law enforcement agency, court, or administrative agency that documents the incident of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Examples of such records include police reports, protective orders, and restraining orders, among others.
  • A statement, which you must sign, along with the signature of an employee, agent, or volunteer of a victim service provider, an attorney, a medical professional or a mental health professional (collectively, "professional") from whom you sought assistance in addressing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, or the effects of abuse, and with the professional selected by you attesting under penalty of perjury that he or she believes that the incident or incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking are grounds for protection.
  • Any other statement or evidence that North Charleston Housing has agreed to accept.

If you fail or refuse to provide one of these documents within the 14 business days, North Charleston Housing does not have to provide you with the protections contained in this notice.

If North Charleston Housing receives conflicting evidence that an incident of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking has been committed (such as certification forms from two or more members of a household each claiming to be a victim and naming one or more of the other petitioning household members as the abuser or perpetrator), North Charleston Housing has the right to request that you provide third-party documentation within thirty 30 calendar days in order to resolve the conflict.  If you fail or refuse to provide third-party documentation where there is conflicting evidence, North Charleston Housing does not have to provide you with the protections contained in this notice.

Confidentiality

North Charleston Housing must keep confidential any information you provide related to the exercise of your rights under VAWA, including the fact that you are exercising your rights under VAWA. 

North Charleston Housing must not allow any individual administering assistance or other services on behalf of North Charleston Housing (for example, employees and contractors) to have access to confidential information unless for reasons that specifically call for these individuals to have access to this information under applicable Federal, State, or local law.

North Charleston Housing must not enter your information into any shared database or disclose your information to any other entity or individual.  North Charleston Housing, however, may disclose the information provided if:

  • You give written permission to North Charleston Housing to release the information on a time limited basis.
  • North Charleston Housing needs to use the information in an eviction or termination proceeding, such as to evict your abuser or perpetrator or terminate your abuser or perpetrator from assistance under this program.
  • A law requires North Charleston Housing or your landlord to release the information.

VAWA does not limit North Charleston Housing's duty to honor court orders about access to or control of the property. This includes orders issued to protect a victim and orders dividing property among household members in cases where a family breaks up.

Reasons a Tenant Eligible for Occupancy Rights under VAWA May Be Evicted or Assistance May Be Terminated

You can be evicted and your assistance can be terminated for serious or repeated lease violations that are not related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking committed against you. However, North Charleston Housing cannot hold tenants who have been victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to a more demanding set of rules than it applies to tenants who have not been victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

The protections described in this notice might not apply, and you could be evicted and your assistance terminated, if North Charleston Housing can demonstrate that not evicting you or terminating your assistance would present a real physical danger that:

  1. Would occur within an immediate time frame, and
  2. Could result in death or serious bodily harm to other tenants or those who work on the property.

If North Charleston Housing can demonstrate the above, North Charleston Housing should only terminate your assistance or evict you if there are no other actions that could be taken to reduce or eliminate the threat.

Other Laws

VAWA does not replace any Federal, State, or local law that provides greater protection for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. You may be entitled to additional housing protections for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking under other Federal laws, as well as under State and local laws.

Non-Compliance with The Requirements of This Notice

You may report a covered North Charleston Housing's violations of these rights and seek additional assistance, if needed, by contacting or filing a complaint with Quiana Abney, Director of Administration- at 843-266-5908 or Department of Housing and Urban Development at 803-253-3292.

For Additional Information

You may view a copy of HUD's final VAWA rule at: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-11-16/pdf/2016-25888.pdf.

Additionally, North Charleston Housing must make a copy of HUD's VAWA regulations available to you if you ask to see them.

For questions regarding VAWA, please contact Sharon Hill, Section 8, HCV Program Coordinator at 843-266-5902.

For help regarding an abusive relationship, you may call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or, for persons with hearing impairments, 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). You may also contact My Sister's House at 843-744-3242, Hotline 843-744-4357 or the Police Department Consolidated Dispatch at 843-743-7200.

For tenants who are or have been victims of stalking seeking help may visit the National Center for Victims of Crime's Stalking Resource Center at https://www.victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/stalking-resource-center.

For help regarding sexual assault, you may contact People Against Rape (PAR) at 843-745-0144 or the Police Department Consolidated Dispatch at 843-743-7200.

Victims of stalking seeking help may contact the Police Department Consolidated Dispatch at 843-743-7200.

AttachmentCertification form HUD-5382


Local organizations offering assistance to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking

My Sister's House, Inc.
P.O. Box 5341
North Charleston, SC - 29405
843-744-3242
(24-Hr Crisis Line)
843-747-4069

Provides 24-hour crisis counseling, emergency shelter, victim advocacy, legal assistance, case management, information and referral, support groups, and children's services.

Charleston Victim/Witnesses Services Program
180 Lockwood Blvd,
Family Violence Unit
North Charleston, SC 29403
843-720-2425

Provides help to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, harassment (stalking), and homicide.

North Charleston Victim Advocate
2500 City Hall Lane, #2
North Charleston, SC 29406
843-740-2824

Provides help to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, harassment (stalking), and homicide.

Summerville Victim Services
300 West 2nd North Street
Summerville, SC 29483
Office 843-851-3328
Dispatch 843-875-1650

Provides help to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, harassment (stalking), and homicide.

People Against Rape
2154 North Center Street
Suite 302
North Charleston, SC 29406
800-241-7273 
Hotline 843-745-0144

Provides supportive and crisis counseling to victims and family members of sexual assault and intimate violence. Provides information and referral about medical and legal proceedings. Provides support by accompanying victims to any medical or legal proceedings. Offers group support, resources, referrals and public education. Bilingual advocacy services are also available.


North Charleston Housing Emergency Transfer Plan for Victims of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking

Housing Choice Voucher Program

Emergency Transfers

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. In accordance with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the PHA allows 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 the PHA has another dwelling unit that is available and is safe to offer the tenant for temporary or more permanent occupancy.

This plan identifies tenants who are eligible for an emergency transfer, the documentation needed to request an emergency transfer, confidentiality protections, how an emergency transfer may occur, and guidance to tenants on safety and security. This plan is based on a model emergency transfer plan published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the federal agency that oversees that the public housing and housing choice voucher (HCV) programs are in compliance with VAWA.

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 in this plan.

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, the tenant shall notify the PHA's management office and submit a written request for a transfer to any PHA office. 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:

  1. 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 the PHA's program; OR
  2. 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.

Confidentiality

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 the PHA 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 or persons that committed an act of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking against the tenant. See the Notice of Occupancy Rights under the Violence against Women Act for All Tenants 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. The PHA 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. The PHA 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 transfer is eligible, the PHA 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, the PHA 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.

Emergency Transfers: Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program

Tenant-based assistance: If you are a participant in the tenant-based HCV program and request an emergency transfer as described in this plan, the PHA will assist you to move to a safe unit quickly using your existing voucher assistance. The PHA will make exceptions to program regulations restricting moves as required.

At your request, the PHA will refer you to organizations that may be able to further assist you.

Project-based assistance: If you are assisted under the project-based voucher (PBV) program, you may request an emergency transfer under the following programs for which you are not required to apply:

  • Tenant-based voucher, if available
  • Project-based assistance in the same project (if a vacant unit is available and you determine that the vacant unit is safe)
  • Project-based assistance in another development owned by the PHA

Emergency transfers under VAWA will take priority over waiting list admissions for these types of assistance.

You may also request an emergency transfer under the following programs for which you are required to apply:

  • Public housing program
  • PBV assistance in another development not owned by the PHA
  • LIHTC

Emergency transfers will not take priority over waiting list admissions for these programs. At your request, the PHA will refer you to organizations that may be able to further assist you.

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.

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, and Incest National Network's National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-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 at: https://www.victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/stalking-resource-center.

 

Attachment: Emergency Transfer Request for Certain Victims of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking, form HUD-5383