Survivors of domestic violence often struggle to find and keep housing where they are safe from abusers. Sometimes they need to leave a home quickly in an emergency and have no place to go. Sometimes they are evicted because of property damage caused by the abuser. Sometimes they cannot afford private housing because they have limited or no income.
Survivors of domestic violence can protect their rights with respect to housing in some circumstances. First, public housing providers may not deny survivors housing because of domestic violence. The survivor may request the public housing authority review the denial of their application.
Second, survivors can also take steps to prevent denials. Survivors may provide landlords with proof that they were abused. They may also show landlords that the relationship with the abuser is over. Sometimes letters from past landlords could be helpful.
Third, survivors may have a discrimination claim under the Fair Housing Act if a landlord denies them housing because of the violence. Landlords may not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability. Discrimination against survivors of domestic violence may be sex discrimination in certain situations. A person who believes they have experienced this kind of discrimination should contact the fair housing agency or file a complaint with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC). Information about OCRC is at http://crc.ohio.gov/.
Financial help with housing is also available for survivors. The Crime Victim Compensation Fund, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program provide financial help to survivors. For information and assistance applying to these programs, and referrals to domestic violence shelters, call 2-1-1.
Legal Aid provides help to low-income survivors of domestic violence in some cases. Call Legal Aid at 1-888-817-3777 to apply for help.
This article was written by Megan Hobart and appeared in The Alert: Volume 34, Issue 2