In Chattanooga, Tennessee, the police were called to the scene after an abuser stabbed his ex-girlfriend at her apartment. Following the incident, her private landlord served her with an eviction letter because of the police presence at the apartment complex.
A private landlord in Wichita, Kansas, denied a domestic violence survivor’s rental application, explaining “he did not want domestic violence victims in his apartments because abusers often found them and caused property damage.” Even though the survivor provided the landlord with documentation of her abuser’s incarceration and a court restraining order, the landlord denied her rental application.
In Washington, D.C., a woman and her three small children were experiencing domestic violence in private rental housing. Following several incidents of abuse by her husband against her, the woman sought and obtained a civil protection order against the abuser from the court, which ordered him to vacate the apartment and required him to stay away from her. In the meantime, however, the landlord issued the woman an eviction notice and brought an eviction action against her, alleging that she was “being noisy and boisterous by fighting at all hours which is offensive to the other occupants of the building.”
A woman living in Racine County, Wisconsin, was evicted and lost her Section 8 housing voucher when her child’s father, in violation of a domestic abuse injunction, broke down her apartment door. The police were called and the abuser was incarcerated. As a result of the incident, the apartment manager evicted the woman because of the property damage caused by her abuser. The local housing authority then terminated her Section 8 benefits.
Domestic violence (DV) is the leading cause of homelessness in the United States. 50% of all homeless people say that their homeless status is primarily caused by DV. One in every four women is homeless because of violent acts against her, according to a 2007 report from The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. The DV stories are excerpts from that survey. Violence is a problem for low-income and impoverished families, and women seem to be especially vulnerable victims.
Hold up. What is this ‘Section 8’ business from the last story, you ask?
The Housing Choice Voucher Program, known as Section 8, is a Federal housing program which provides housing subsidies to low-income renters and homeowners. To qualify, a person has to be classified as ‘low-income,’ or have an income level that is 50% below the area median income. Rent is based on income, and a voucher will pay anything above 30% of the adjusted monthly income up to a certain limit based on area. Section 8 program requirements including a physical inspection to insure the building is decent, safe and sanitary, the housing authority executes a contract with the landlord to pay rent on your behalf.
Sounds like a really good deal, right? Until hopes of home security are shattered by DV. Victims can be evicted or denied housing because of the violent acts against them, such as a history of calling the police, having lived in an emergency shelter, and having obtained supposedly risky court protection orders. Landlords try to protect themselves, business, and their assets, but they end up causing a lot of hard to already bruised and broken people. Literally. It is illegal through the Violence Against Women Act of 2005 to dismiss a tenant because they are a victim of domestic violence. It still happens. These women need protection from all sides, and a stable place to live is a start.