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New Bill Would Help Protect Domestic Abuse Victims In PA Public Housing

Francisco Seco
AP Photo
A woman stands by a drawing sketched on the ground, representing women killed by men, during a protest against violence against women in Madrid, July 25, 2017.

A bipartisan team of three state senators has introduced legislation that would make relocation easier for victims of domestic assault within public housing.

Sen. Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia and Montgomery County), Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Beaver, Greene and Washington Counties) and Sen. Judith Schwank (D-Berks County) are sponsoring the bill.

Senate Bill 919 would allow tenants to relocate after certifying to a housing authority that they've been a victim of domestic abuse or are in imminent danger. Proof can include police reports, medical records or a current Protection From Abuse order.

"The form of proof may be chosen by the tenant," said Liana Walters, Sen. Haywood's Legislative Director, in an email. "Additionally, the housing authority is not to determine the validity of the complaint of domestic violence, [they are] only permitted to determine whether the tenant has submitted sufficient paperwork to show they qualify for relocation." 

After the approval of a relocation request, the victim and other household members would be moved within 30 days.

"The overall goal is to create as many opportunities as reasonably possible to get a tenant out of an immediately dangerous situation," Walters added.

Bartolotta said it's important to address domestic abuse as a bipartisan issue, as it affects people from all walks of life. 

"We as a society need to do everything in our power to provide the best legal action we can for these women, men and families that are in harm's way," Bartolotta said.

Delilah Rumburg, CEO of Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, says most victims of sexual or domestic assault are abused in or near their homes.

"That's why families need this opportunity to gain some control back over their lives," Rumburg said. "Certainly everyone deserves a safe home."

On Wednesday, the bill was approved by the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee. It has been sent to the full Senate for consideration.

Kathleen J. Davis covers news about just about anything at WESA. She’s also the primary reporter and producer of WESA’s weekly series Pittsburgh Tech Report. Kathleen originally hails from the great state of Michigan, and is always available to talk about suburban Detroit and Coney Island diners. She lives in Bloomfield.
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