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April–May 2013 Bulletin Summaries

VAWA 2013 Continues Vital Housing Protections for Survivors and Provides New Safeguards
On March 7, 2013, President Obama signed into law the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, which extends protections to survivors on tribal land, in Rural Development rental housing, as well as LGBT and immigrant survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. The law also continues and expands many of the housing protections that had been provided by the Violence Against Women Act of 2005. This article summarizes the major housing provisions of VAWA 2013 and highlights key differences between VAWA 2005 and VAWA 2013.

Litigation Approaches to Challenging Subsidized Housing Denials Based on Applicants’ Criminal Records
In 2010 and 2011, staff attorneys at Bay Area Legal Aid saw a pattern of clients whose applications for housing choice vouchers or public housing had been denied because of past criminal activity. The clients had three things in common – they had been on the waitlist for public housing or the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program for many years, they had a criminal record that was many years old, and they were otherwise qualified for subsidized housing. This article discusses approaches to challenging these types of denials.

HUD Obtains Language Access Conciliation Agreement with Realty Company
On January 3, 2013, HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity entered into a Conciliation Agreement with Virginia Realty Company of Tidewater, Inc. to address the company’s written policy of requiring applicants to be able to communicate in English without assistance. This settlement demonstrates the potential remedies available through administrative advocacy to combat similar policies that discriminate against persons with limited English proficiency. This article describes the terms of the settlement.

Commentary: HUD Voucher Program Fails to Relocate Many Families From Poor Segregated Neighborhoods
Social scientists and policy makers have long understood the harmful effects that living in high-poverty neighborhoods can have on children and adults. Numerous studies underscore the links between neighborhood disadvantage and a host of social problems, including high school dropout rates, infant mortality, cognitive difficulties, teenage childbearing and exposure to violence. In response, the federal government has implemented multiple strategies to deconcentrate poverty through programs such as HOPE VI and the Housing Choice Voucher Program. This article reviews why these efforts have continued to yield poor results.

Recent Housing Cases
This issue of the Bulletin contains a brief summary of recent significant state and federal court decisions relating to affordable housing issues.

Recent Regulations and Notices
This issue of the Bulletin includes a brief summary of significant proposed and final regulations recently published in the Federal Register by federal housing agencies as well as summaries of other published notices and handbook changes recently made by HUD, RHS and other agencies administering affordable housing programs.

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