PCADV AND PARTNERS DEFEAT DISCRIMINATORY HOUSING ORDINANCES
YOUR ACTION MADE A DIFFERENCE!
Thursday, October 16, 2014, the Pennsylvania senate unanimously passed House Bill 1796 after removing a problematic amendment having nothing to do with housing. The legislature sent the bill to the Governor for approval. Advocates from across the Commonwealth urged the senate to stand up for victims of domestic violence and pass this important housing protection.
A victim of a crime should never be punished for seeking help from those who are charged to serve and protect. In response to your advocacy, your senators showed that they agree! Please click here to thank your senator for supporting victims of domestic violence by voting "YES" to House Bill 1796. Please also give your senator a call and thank them for their support. You can find your senator's number by clicking here and you can access the roll call for the final vote here.
SUMMARY OF HOUSE BILL 1796
House Bill 1796, sponsored by Representative Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery), prohibits local nuisance ordinances from penalizing tenants for calling police to respond to domestic violence and other emergencies. Victims should not be forced to make the impossible choice between stable housing and police protection. The case of Briggs v Borough of Norristown illustrates the harsh options with which victims are faced. Ms. Briggs, the plaintiff in the case, was repeatedly attacked by her abuser, but each time refrained from calling the police because she feared that calling for help would result in her eviction due to a nuisance ordinance. Ms. Briggs' fears came true after a particularly brutal attack in which her ex-boyfriend slashed her throat with broken glass. After the attack, a neighbor called for emergency assistance. Ms. Briggs was airlifted to the hospital, and shortly thereafter the city forced her landlord to institute eviction proceedings. With the passage of House Bill 1796, such policies will be eliminated.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TENACIOUS ADVOCACY AND SUPPORT FOR VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE!
Contact Abigail Hurst, PCADV Policy Specialist, at email@example.com or 717-545-6400 x157 for more information.
Executive Director Peg Dierkers Praises Legislators For Shielding Domestic Violence Victims from Eviction
General Assembly approves bill negating “nuisance ordinance" provision
“We are grateful to the legislators and coalition partners, who stood up today to protect Pennsylvania families,’’ Dierkers said. “Passage of this important legislation was only possible because of the grassroots support. It is truly something to celebrate during Domestic Violence Awareness Month."
- Read the full press release129.03 K | 10/16/2014
Department of Housing and Urban Development Settles Housing Discrimination Case with City of Norristown
As a result of the Briggs v Norristown lawsuit, HUD also was investigating Norristown for discrimination. HUD and Norristown reached a settlement on Thursday, October 2, and Norristown must do the following:
Under the terms of this agreement with HUD, Norristown must now publish a notice of repeal of its ordinance in the local newspaper; offer fair housing training to city and public safety officials; print and distribute a fair housing rights brochure that specifically encourages all tenants to call the police when they are in need of help; and work with a local domestic violence advocacy group to develop and promote an annual community service day or other activity to raise awareness of domestic violence.
Briggs v. Norristown Case Settles!
Ms. Briggs & attorneys awarded $495K
The ACLU is happy to announce today the settlement of the Briggs v. Norristown litigation. Norristown repealed the ordinance and promised not to enact another ordinance in the future that penalizes tenants and landlords as a result of requests for emergency or police assistance. It also agreed to compensate Ms. Briggs and her attorneys $495,000.
We are very pleased with this outcome and plan to use this case in the ACLU's advocacy with other municipalities across the country. Thanks to all of you for your support on this case, and especially to PCADV for its leadership on the amicus brief and educating advocates on this issue.
The litigation is part of the ACLU's "I Am Not a Nuisance" campaign, aimed at ensuring that survivors of domestic and sexual violence are able to access both secure housing and police protection when they seek it. We’d appreciate it if your organizations would consider spreading the word about our new resources:
- Blogpost about the settlement
- Press release about the settlement
- Website with resources – I Am Not a Nuisance
- Survey for those affected by these ordinances
Senior Staff Attorney, Women’s Rights Project
American Civil Liberties Union
Pa. Legislators Move to Ban 'Nuisance' Ordinances
1/17/2014 - Domestic violence victims should not have to choose between calling the police for help or being evicted. Rep. Todd Stephens' bill would prevent other domestic violence victims from losing their rental housing because of nuisance ordinances. PCADV has previously supported the lawsuit of a tenant evicted under Norristown's ordinance, and works to make sure victims understand their housing rights.
Watch the ABC27 report
House Bill 1796 Would Protect Victims of Crime and Abuse From Eviction
Pennsylvania "is now hopefully going to be a model of how the state came together with Representative Stephens’ leadership, recognized an ill, and took action to fix it.” Laurie Baughman, PCADV Senior Attorney, is quoted in this article about the General Assembly's recent vote to prevent domestic violence survivors from being unfairly evicted for calling police for help.
US Senator Robert Casey Urges Federal Action on Nuisance Ordinances
Sen. Casey cites PCADV and the Lakesha Briggs case in urging education about VAWA protections for domestic violence victims
- View the letter
Letter of July 19, 2013 to the Departments of Justice and Housing from Sen. Casey of Pennsylvania.972.92 K | 8/16/2013
Ordinances Force Victims to Choose Between Help and Homelessness
PCADV filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief on May 31 in Briggs v. Norristown in support of Lakisha Briggs. Ms. Briggs' federal lawsuit challenges the Norristown, Pennsylvania, nuisance ordinance that forced her into eviction proceedings after police were called to her residence on three occasions. Peg Dierkers, PCADV Executive Director, explained, "We are fighting this ordinance in Pennsylvania to protect victims in our state and because we know that it has far-reaching consequences. We hope our work helps to end these harmful ordinances across the nation."
PCADV was joined by the PCADV Women of Color Caucus, 17 local domestic violence programs across Pennsylvania, and 4 national programs, including the National Network to End Domestic Violence NNEDV, Futures Without Violence, the National Housing Law Project, and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law.
NNEDV issued a press release announcing their support for PCADV's Amicus Brief. "No victim of abuse should have to choose between calling the police and becoming homeless" said Kim Gandy, President and CEO of NNEDV. Gandy went on to explain, "This mean-spirited ordinance pits the need for shelter against the need for safety from violence. … Any policy that dissuades victims from reaching out for help will have deadly consequences."
Oral argument in this case is scheduled for August 15, 2013, before the Honorable Eduardo C. Robreno at the United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
ACLU files constitutional challenge to Norristown, Pennsylvania ordinance
April 24, 2013
Lakisha Briggs was threatened with eviction when police responded to her home for a third domestic violence call. The local "nuisance" ordinance forces landlords to evict tenants if police are repeatedly called to their homes. Many cities in Pennsylvania have these ordinances, which punish victims of domestic violence with homelessness for calling for help.
The first time Lakisha’s ex-boyfriend showed up at her home and assaulted her, she called for police assistance. But, when police responded to her call for help a second time, they informed her that a local ordinance required her landlord to evict her if she called police a third time. Lakisha was so afraid of eviction that she stopped calling the police for help... even when her ex-boyfriend attacked her. Fortunately, neighbors stepped up and called police and Lakisha was airlifted to the hospital for treatment. After this horrific assault, police informed Lakisha that the neighbor’s call was her third strike and threatened to force her out of her home.
On April 24, 2013, the ACLU-PA, ACLU-Women's Rights Project and the law firm of Pepper Hamilton filed a federal housing lawsuit, Briggs v. Borough of Norristown, on Lakisha's behalf. Both ACLU programs have partnered with PCADV in efforts to address homelessness and domestic violence. PCADV supports their efforts in filing this suit. We believe justice will prevail for Lakisha and other victims who face eviction for calling police. Read the ACLU statement
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PCADV's Amicus Brief
- Read the Full Brief
Brief Amicus Curiae of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, et al., In Support of Plaintiff's Motion For Preliminary Injunction, May 31, 2013.299.41 K | 10/20/2014
- Read the Statements of Interest from Supporting Agencies1.97 Meg | 6/24/2013
Supporting Sponsors of the May 2014 Brief
A Woman's Place Bucks County
Alle-Kiske Area HOPE Center, Inc. Allegheny County
Blackburn Center Against Domestic and Sexual Violence Westmoreland County
Centre County Women's Resource Center
Clinton County Women's Center
Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County
Domestic Violence Services of Southwestern PA Washington and Fayette Counties
Futures Without Violence
Laurel House Montgomery County
Lutheran Settlement House, Bilingual Domestic Violence Program Philadelphia County
National Housing Law Project
National Network to End Domestic Violence
Schuylkill Women In Crisis
Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
Survivor's Inc. Adams County
Women Against Abuse Philadelphia County
Women In Need Franklin and Fulton Counties
Women of Color Caucus, PCADV
Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh Allegheny County
Women's Center of Montgomery County
Women's Resource Center Lackawanna and Susquehanna Counties
YWCA Greater Harrisburg Dauphin County
Shut Up or Get Out: PA City Punishes Domestic Violence Victims Who Call the Police, ACLU Blog, Apr. 2013
Ordinance that evicts tenants for seeking police aid is putting abused women out on the street, ABA Journal, Sept. 2013
- Read the Statements of Interest from Supporting Agencies