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--- Issued April 9

The Erie Housing Authority has prepared a new lease for public housing residents that includes protection for victims of abuse such as domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.

The Authority did this to comply with the provisions of the Violence Against Women and Justice Department Reauthorization Act of 2005 (VAWA).

The Violence Against Women and Justice Department Reauthorization Act of 2005 (VAWA) protects tenants and family members of tenants who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking from being evicted or terminated from housing assistance based on acts of such violence against them. The provisions of VAWA apply both to public housing agencies administering public housing and Section 8 programs, and to owners renting to families under Section 8 rental assistance programs.

In general, the law provides in part, and the new lease states, that criminal activity directly relating to domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking, engaged in by a member of a tenant’s household or any guest or other person under the tenant’s control, shall not be cause for termination of assistance, tenancy, or occupancy rights if the tenant or an immediate member of the tenant’s family is the victim or threatened victim of that abuse. The law also provides that an incident or incidents of actual or threatened domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking will not be construed as serious or repeated violations of the lease by the victim or threatened of that violence and will not be “good cause” for termination of the assistance, tenancy, or occupancy rights of a victim of such violence.

The Authority has taken the following actions to implement the provisions of VAWA :

The Authority has conducted a training of all management and administrative staff on the provisions of VAWA. This training was conducted by Attorney Timothy S. Wachter of the law firm of Knox, McLaughlin, Gornall & Sennett on March 21, 2007.

Notices have been sent to all Public Housing Residents to explain the protections offered to victims of abuse under the provisions of VAWA. At the next tenant recertification, the tenant will sign a form acknowledging receipt of the VAWA Notice, and will execute a new public housing lease which includes the required VAWA lease provisions. New tenants will be given the VAWA notice and will sign the acknowledgement form at the time of lease signing.

Notices have been provided by first-class mail to all Section 8 Owners and Section 8 Tenants. At the next tenant recertification, the lease holder will sign a form acknowledging receipt of the VAWA Notice, and will receive a copy of the Housing Assistance Payments Contract which has been executed by the Landlord and the Authority.

The Public Housing Lease has been amended to include the required VAWA provisions. At the time of the next recertification, the tenant shall execute a new dwelling lease which incorporates the provisions of VAWA.

Victims of domestic violence, dating violence or stalking shall certify as such before VAWA protections can be offered. The Authority will utilize HUD Form 50066 for this purpose.

The Authority will incorporate revisions to the Public Housing Admission and Occupancy Policy and the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Administrative Plan which will reflect the provisions of VAWA.