Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children. Many victims who leave their housing to escape violence do not have the resources to support housing alone. Others are evicted from housing due to their abuser’s disruptive and often criminal behavior, or have poor credit and poor rental history due to tactics of financial abuse. ANDVSA works with state and federal agency partners to increase awareness about the dynamics of domestic violence and victims’ housing needs, to improve access and remove barriers for accessing housing. The Policy Program provides information, resources, training and technical assistance to member programs on the Empowering Choice Housing Program (ECHP) and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) housing protections for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.
To learn more about housing options in your community or to find available housing rentals, visit the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation’s website at: www.ahfc.us/rent
Alaska Legal Services Corporations (ALSC) offers a Landlord/Tenant Legal Helpline to provide free assistance to both tenants and landlords with legal questions. The Helpline operates on Thursdays from 6-8pm and is staffed by volunteer attorneys. In Anchorage, please call (907) 743-1000 and for those outside of the Anchorage area, the toll-free number is 1-855-743-1001.
The Empowering Choice Housing Program (ECHP) is an innovative transitional housing assistance program designed to provide 36 months of rental assistance to displaced victims of domestic violence and sexual assault referred by a local domestic violence or sexual assault agency. The program goal is to serve 254 survivors throughout the 12 communities where AHFC offers voucher rental assistance. For more information, talk to your advocate and see which housing options are right for you.
VAWA Housing Protections
On March 7, 2013, President Obama signed into law the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013). The law continues many of the housing protections provided by the Violence Against Women Act of 2005 and further expands these safeguards in several crucial ways. For example, VAWA 2013’s protections apply to additional programs administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as well as Rural Development multifamily housing and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program. It further covers survivors of sexual assault, mandates emergency transfer plans and require that housing providers notify applicants and tenants of their VAWA housing rights at three critical junctures in multiple languages.
In order to fully implement the VAWA 2013 Housing Protections, HUD needs to issue a rule implementing several parts of this new section. However, in the meantime, we are working with Alaska Housing Finance Corporation on implementing these critical new provisions.
Title V of the McKinney-Vento Act
The federal government is the largest single owner of real estate in the nation. Every year, dozens of landholding agencies determine that many of its properties-ranging from massive warehouses to military barracks and vacant land-are excess to their ongoing needs. Title V of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 grants homeless services providers an exclusive right of first refusal to apply to own or lease any surplus federal property at no charge. Non-profit groups, state agencies, and local governments can all apply for Title V property. In the past, these properties have been utilized by homeless service providers in Alaska to develop transitional housing units. Each Friday, the Federal Register lists surplus and excess properties available for disposition. The Policy Program monitors the Federal Register and notifies programs of available properties in their communities. For more information on the Title V properties and how to apply, click here.