(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Representatives Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), Ann Wagner (MO-02), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), and Trey Hollingsworth (IN-09) have introduced the VAWA Protections for Rural Women Act of 2019, that will add the Rural Housing Voucher program to the list of covered housing programs under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
This is another crucial step toward protecting victims of domestic violence from homelessness, regardless of whether they live in a metropolitan area or a rural town.
An astounding 92 percent of homeless women have experienced severe physical or sexual violence, while almost 50 percent of all homeless women report that domestic violence was the immediate cause of their homelessness. Additionally, upwards of 25 percent of women in rural areas live more than 40 miles from programs that can assist.
“Access to safe and affordable housing for domestic violence victims must extend to rural communities,” Congressman Gonzalez said. “I am proud to join Congresswomen Garcia and Wagner and Congressman Hollingsworth in this effort to expand the success of the Violence Against Women Act and provide additional safe housing options for women, no matter where they live.”
“Domestic violence victims in rural communities often do not have critical resources to get away and stay away from their abusers,” Congresswoman Wagner said. “This legislation helps provide more accessible options for those who may otherwise be helplessly trapped in the cycle of abuse. Victims of domestic violence in every corner of our country deserve safe and affordable housing away from their abusers, and I thank Congressman Gonzalez for working with me on this important issue.”
“It is important that domestic violence victims can access the same protections and support no matter where they live,” said Rep. Sylvia Garcia. “Having grown up in rural South Texas, I know how critical this is to women in rural America everywhere.”
“Women in rural areas across Indiana need lifesaving services and resources,” said Rep. Trey Hollingsworth. “This bipartisan legislation helps victims of domestic violence by expanding their protections in affordable housing, helping free women from cycles of abuse.”
Unfortunately, the Rural Housing Voucher Program was not originally included under VAWA, leaving individuals holding these vouchers extremely vulnerable to homelessness, and without help that might be available in another setting. This legislation is designed to fill the gap in housing support for rural victims. All other rural housing programs, the Department of Housing and Urban Development rental assistance programs, and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program are currently included as covered housing programs under VAWA.