Women in Public Housing again Protected in Their Housing Choices Thanks to VAWA, says John Marshall’s Fair Housing Legal Clinic Director Allison Bethel

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The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act is giving women in domestic abuse situations the right to maintain their federally-funded housing choices, says Allison Bethel, director of The John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal Clinic in Chicago.

Protections for women threatened with the loss of their federally-funded housing choices because of domestic violence or abuse will again find protection in the courts thanks to President Barack Obama signing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

The legislation became law on March 7, 2013, when the president took the final action after a year-long effort to reauthorize the legislation. VAWA provides federal funding for programs aiding the prosecutions of domestic and sexual violence cases.

“The reauthorization of VAWA by President Obama is a step in the right direction toward protecting the rights of victims of domestic violence and other abuse survivors,” said Professor Allison Bethel, director of the Fair Housing Legal Clinic at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

“VAWA provides important protections for those living in federal public housing or on Section 8 financial assistance,” Bethel explained. “But, it does not extend to private housing. We need to close this loophole and insure that an abuse victim’s safety at home does not depend, even a little bit, on whether they live in public or private housing.”

Illinois is one of the few states that includes victims of domestic violence as a protected class in its fair housing law.“This insures that landlords cannot refuse to rent, evict, terminate tenancy or otherwise treat someone badly simply because they are a survivor of domestic abuse,” she noted. “Obtaining and retaining safe housing is critical to the recovery process for survivors—many of whom are women with children.”

Bethel said the Fair Housing Legal Clinic works to make fair housing options available to all persons.

“The John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal Clinic offers assistance to families, and any victim of abuse who believes his or her fair housing rights may have been violated,” she added.

For more information, contact the Fair Housing Legal Clinic at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago at 312.786.1047 or at http://www.jmls.edu/fairhousing/clinic.

About the Fair Housing Legal Clinic

The John Marshall Law School established the Fair Housing Legal Clinic in 1993 to train law students in fair housing law and to work with those being discriminated against in their housing choices. The Clinic provides representation to persons discriminated against because of race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, physical and mental disabilities, familial status, sexual orientation, source of income, military discharge status and protective order status.

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Marilyn Thomas
The John Marshall Law School
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