VAWA - Emergency Transfers
Decatur Housing Authority (DHA) is concerned about the safety of its participants, and such concern extends to participants who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. In accordance with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), DHA allows participants who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to request an emergency transfer from the participant's current unit to another unit. The ability to request a transfer is available regardless of sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The ability of DHA to honor such request for participants currently receiving assistance, however, may depend upon a preliminary determination that the participant is or has been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and on whether DHA has another dwelling unit that is available and is safe to offer the participant for temporary or more permanent occupancy.
This plan identifies participants who are eligible for an emergency transfer, the documentation needed to request an emergency transfer, confidentiality protections, how an emergency transfer may occur, and guidance to participants on safety and security. This plan is based on a model emergency transfer plan published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Federal agency that oversees the Housing Choice Voucher Program is in compliance with VAWA.
Eligibility for Emergency Transfers
A participant who is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, as provided in HUD's regulations at 24 CFR part 5, subpart L is eligible for an emergency transfer, if: the participant reasonably believes that there is a threat of imminent harm from further violence if the participant remains within the same unit. If the participant is a victim of sexual assault, the participant may also be eligible to transfer if the sexual assault occurred on the premises within the 90-calendar-day period preceding a request for an emergency transfer.
A participant requesting an emergency transfer must expressly request the transfer in accordance with the procedures described in this plan.
Participants who are not in good standing may still request an emergency transfer if they meet the eligibility requirements in this section.
Emergency Transfer Request Documentation
To request an emergency transfer, the participant shall notify the DHA's Housing Choice Voucher office and submit a written request for a transfer. DHA will provide reasonable accommodations to this policy for individuals with disabilities. The participant's written request for an emergency transfer should include either:
1. A statement expressing that the participant reasonably believes that there is a threat of imminent harm from further violence if the participant were to remain in the same dwelling unit assisted under DHA's Housing Choice Voucher program; OR
2. A statement that the participant was a sexual assault victim and that the sexual assault occurred on the premises during the 90-calendar-day period preceding the participant's request for an emergency transfer.
DHA must keep a confidential record of emergency transfer requests and the outcomes for three years.
DHA will keep confidential any information that the participant submits in requesting an emergency transfer, and information about the emergency transfer, unless the participant gives DHA written permission to release the information on a time limited basis, or disclosure of the information is required by law or required for use in an eviction proceeding or hearing regarding termination of assistance from the Housing Choice Voucher program. This includes keeping confidential the new location of the dwelling unit of the participant, if one is provided, from the person(s) that committed an act(s) of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking against the participant. See the Notice of Occupancy Rights under the Violence Against Women Act For All Participants for more information about DHA's responsibility to maintain the confidentiality of information related to incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
Emergency Transfer Timing and Availability
DHA cannot guarantee that a transfer request will be approved or how long it will take to process a transfer request. DHA will, however, act as quickly as possible to issue a voucher to a participant who is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking authorizing her/him to find to a suitable unit or process a request for portability, if requested by the participant. The new unit must meet all program requirements prior to executing a new Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract. The transferred participant must agree to abide by the terms and conditions that govern occupancy in the unit to which the participant has been transferred. DHA may be unable to transfer a participant to a particular unit if the participant has not or cannot establish eligibility for that unit.
If DHA has no safe and available units for which a participant who needs an emergency is eligible, DHA will assist the participant in identifying other housing providers who may have safe and available units to which the participant could move. At the participant's request, DHA will also assist participants in contacting the local organizations offering assistance to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking that are attached to this plan.
Emergency Transfer Procedures
Upon receiving notification that a participant is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, DHA will immediately provide a copy of the Notice of Occupancy Rights to ensure the victim understands their rights and certification requirements. DHA will inquire as to whether the victim or family desires to move within DHA's jurisdiction or port out and how to safely contact the family. DHA will take actions based on the family's request.
If the family requests an emergency transfer to another unit within DHA's jurisdiction, DHA will request the victim complete Form HUD-5283, Emergency Transfer Request. If additional verification is needed, DHA will request in writing that the family provide either Form HUD-5382 or one of the other documents listed in the Notice of Occupancy Rights provided to the family. The family will have fourteen (14) business days to submit the requested documentation. Once acceptable verification is obtained, the family will be issued a voucher and a Request for Tenancy Approval form to search for a safe unit. Once a unit is located and the family deems the unit safe, DHA will expedite processing the move to include determination of affordability, rent reasonableness, initial inspection and HAP contract execution.
If the emergency transfer request is to exercise portability, DHA will ask the victim to complete Form HUD-5383, Emergency Transfer Request and provide the portability location. If additional verification is needed, DHA will request in writing that the family provide either Form HUD-5382 or one of the other documents listed in the Notice of Occupancy Rights provided to the family. Once acceptable verification is obtained, the family will be issued a voucher and the portability request will be expedited in accordance with DHA's Administrative Plan.
If the family has moved from the assisted unit due to their fear for personal health or safety without prior notification to DHA or the landlord, DHA will require the victim complete Form HUD-5382 or provide one of the other documents listed in the Notice of Occupancy Rights provided to the family within fourteen (14) business days of moving from the assisted unit. Once acceptable verification is received, DHA will process the family's request to either move to another unit within DHA's jurisdiction or exercise portability as stated above.
Safety and Security of Participants
Pending processing of the transfer and the actual transfer, if it is approved and occurs, the participant is urged to take all reasonable precautions to be safe.
Participants who are or have been victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact one or more of the following agencies or a local domestic violence shelter for assistance with creating a safety plan:
Women's Resource Center Hotline 404-688-9436
Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-334-2836 (1-800-HAVEN)
Partnership Against Domestic Violence 404-870-9600
P. O. Box 170225
Atlanta, GA 30317
National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233
Participants who have been victims of sexual assault may contact the
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network's National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE, or visit the online hotline at https://ohl.rainn.org/online/.
Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault
P. O. Box 162505
Atlanta, GA 30321
Grady Rape Crisis Center 404-616-4861
Participants who are or have been victims of stalking seeking help may visit the National Center for Victims of Crime's Stalking Resource Center at https://www.victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/stalking-resource-center.
 Despite the name of this law, VAWA protection is available to all victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, regardless of sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
 Housing providers cannot discriminate on the basis of any protected characteristic, including race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, disability, or age. HUD-assisted and HUD-insured housing must be made available to all otherwise eligible individuals regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.