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‘Justice for All Act’ improves housing protections for survivors

December 2, 2016

The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) applauds Congress for the passage of the Justice for All Act (JFAA), which makes critical improvements to the justice system for victims and the accused. Senators Cornyn (R-TX) and Leahy (D-VT) and Representatives Poe (R-TX) and Costa (D-CA) worked in a bipartisan, bicameral manner to draft and pass this important bill.

Among the amendments, JFAA clarifies the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) housing protections to ensure residents who may not be named on the lease, as well as tenants, are protected and offered access to safe housing. JFAA’s technical fix to VAWA will help survivors who often face either continued abuse or homelessness

NNEDV’s DV Counts National Census of Domestic Violence Services found that in just one day in 2015, while more than 71,828 victims of domestic violence received services, over 12,000 requests for services went unmet due to lack of funding and resources. Of those unmet requests, 63 percent were for safe housing.

“Housing is a critical need for survivors. The Justice for All Act’s amendment will help expand access to secure housing for more survivors,” said Kim Gandy, NNEDV President and CEO.

The JFAA includes provisions to reduce the Rape Kit Backlog by directing funding specifically to address this issue and help law enforcement conduct audits on their backlogs. It amends the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners program to expand victim access by encouraging programs to hire full-time nurses in rural and underserved areas, as well as establishing new training programs. In addition, the act will provide increased discretion for the Office on Victims of Crime to fund innovative victim services through the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), improve the structure for state compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), and eliminate a misapplied funding penalty on VAWA, which had been reducing funding for victim services and law enforcement response.

“The Justice for All Act reflects the hard work and bipartisan efforts of Congressional champions who care deeply about the rights of victims,” said Gandy. “We are grateful to the Congressional leaders who championed this bill and look forward to its positive impact for survivors.”