New Housing and Urban Development protections may benefit local domestic violence victims

The department of Housing and Urban Development recently issued two guidances and two final rules on the Fair Housing Act that may help victims of domestic violence in Mille Lacs County.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the provision of housing based on race, sex, religion or nationality.
The guidances concern rules for the enforcement of nuisance ordinances and housing discrimination against those with limited English proficiency. The final rules concern hostile environments and coercive quid pro quo (“this for that”) transactions in exchange for housing, as well as discrimination-based on gender identity.
These new protections were announced by HUD on Sept. 13.
The “Guidance on Application of Fair Housing Act Standards to the Enforcement of Local Nuisance and Crime-Free Housing Ordinances Against Victims of Domestic Violence, Other Crimes and Others Who Require Police or Emergency Service” will make it more difficult for landlords to evict domestic violence victims from their housing.
Nuisance ordinances, as well as crime-free housing ordinances, sometimes allow for or stipulate that residents be evicted from their housing if they make more than a certain number of calls to police or emergency personnel. HUD’s new guidance on nuisance ordinances defines these evictions as discrimination in the case of victims of domestic violence, and therefore a violation of the Fair Housing Act.
Judy Pearson, director of Pearl Crisis Center, which provides advocacy for domestic violence victims in Mille Lacs County, said nuisance ordinances sometimes make victims of domestic violence afraid to call for emergency help out of fear of losing their housing.
“We have seen in the past victims lose their housing because the police came too many times,” Pearson said.
Pearson encourages victims of domestic violence who have been evicted and are uncertain whether the conditions under which they were evicted were legal to contact Pearl. Pearl Crisis Center’s office is located at 235 Second St. SW in Milaca. Pearl’s office number is 320-982-2901. Pearl’s 24-hour crisis line for domestic violence is 800-933-6914.
People who would like to file a complaint over violation of the Fair Housing Act may contact HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at 800-669-9777, or 800-927-9275 for those who use a teletypewriter. Complaints may also be filed at www.hud.gov.