This post was updated on March 11.
With government funding set to expire at midnight on March 11, the House has moved to pass a large omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government through fiscal year 2022 that includes roughly $14 billion in assistance for Ukraine. The Senate late in the evening on March 10 approved the measure that will fund the federal government through Sept. 30, 2022.
Of note to the housing community, the spending package will also renew and modernize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), legislation that expired in 2018.
Prior to the Senate vote on the omnibus spending bill, NAHB and 10 other housing organizations sent a joint letter to members of the Senate urging passage of the VAWA provision.
“Our industry is committed to providing high quality, affordable, and safe homes and we believe that preserving housing for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking is critically important,” the letter stated. “We urge support for the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022.”
The VAWA was originally passed in 1994 and reauthorized three times before it lapsed in 2018. The measure provides housing solutions to support domestic violence and sexual assault victims.
NAHB was instrumental in ensuring that several harmful provisions were not included in the VAWA reauthorization. The most notable of these would have required owners of covered properties (that receive HUD and Rural Housing Service subsidies or Low-Income Housing Tax Credits) to grant an unreported tenant (i.e., one who is living in the unit but is not on the lease) the opportunity to establish eligibility in their own right if an abuser is evicted.
The VAWA reauthorization establishes a Violence Prevention Office at HUD and takes steps to better address the long-term stability of victims who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless.
Finally, the measure requires that the regulatory process instituted to enhance compliance includes close cooperation between housing providers and the domestic violence victims’ advocates to ensure that the VAWA provides vital protections for victims, while balancing the needs of victims, their communities and housing providers alike.