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Wagner Statement on HEALS Act

Nov 26, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. -- Congresswoman Ann Wagner (MO-02), along with Reps. Gwen Moore (WI-04), Tom O'Halleran (AZ-01), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), Joyce Beatty (OH-03), and Harley Rouda (CA-48), introduced the Help End Abusive Living Situations (HEALS) Act, legislation to assist survivors of domestic violence to rapidly secure safe housing situations.

“Survivors of intimate partner violence, stalking, and sexual assault often face volatile situations where they find themselves without a stable or safe place to live,” said Congresswoman Wagner. “Without safe housing options, victims can fall back into the cycle of violence they are desperately trying to escape. Many victims are also without a support network while they work to rebuild their lives, and these housing resources can give them the support they need to break the cycle of abuse. This legislation will help provide a vital lifeline to victims as they fight for independence and safety.”

 “As a former law enforcement officer, some of the very first calls I responded to involved domestic violence. I’ve seen firsthand the damage this uniquely heinous kind of violence can do to families and to survivors.” said Rep. O’Halleran. “No person experiencing DV should be forced to stay in a dangerous situation because they do not have housing elsewhere. I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce this bill that will make a real difference for those seeking to leave abusive situations.”

The HEALS Act directs the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to prioritize funding for transitional housing, rapid re-housing, and permanent supportive housing for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The legislation also establishes standards in evaluating current resources available to survivors and instructs HUD to research and identify new housing options that may be viable for survivors of domestic violence.

“As a survivor of domestic violence, I have made it my personal mission to uplift and empower individuals who have been victimized,” said Congresswoman Moore. “For those fleeing dangerous situations, access to safe housing can mean the difference between life and death. I am so proud to support this legislation, which will tackle the current housing shortage and help keep women, children, and men safe.”

“A lack of housing or safe place to stay is one of the most dangerous barriers for survivors of domestic abuse or sexual assault,” said Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz. “Too often, those trying to escape abusive relationships have nowhere to go. No one should be made to choose between an abusive relationship and homelessness. I will always stand with survivors of domestic and sexual violence, which is why today, I join my colleagues in introducing the HEALS Act to ensure survivors have access to vital housing assistance.”

 “This bipartisan legislation empowers survivors of abusive living situations and provides critical resources needed to escape the cyclical violence that plagues so many United States households,” said Congressman Rouda. “I thank my colleagues for their work on this issue and am proud to support the thousands of brave Americans who have endured or are currently enduring domestic violence.”

The HEALS Act is endorsed by the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence and the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

“On behalf of the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, we would like to thank you for leadership in introducing the Help End Abusive Living Situations (HEALS) Act. This Act would undoubtedly help survivors to secure safe housing, which as you know, is an integral component of a survivor’s pathway to healing. The HEALS Act would eliminate barriers survivors often face in securing and maintaining housing. This is a crucial step on a very important issue, and survivors of domestic violence in Arizona will greatly benefit from this legislation.” – Katie Ares, Public Policy Specialist at the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence

“Housing is safety for survivors. It is essential that our government designate resources to provide survivor-centered housing so that all survivors can find safety when fleeing danger.” – Monica McLaughlin, Director of Public Policy at the National Network to End Domestic Violence

"In 2018, Missouri domestic and sexual violence programs provided 55,320 nights of safety in longer-term transitional housing to domestic violence victims and their families. Yet annual statistics provided by MCADSV member programs show that for every one person able to receive shelter services, another two are turned away. The Help End Abusive Living Situations (HEALS) Act is critical for ensuring the housing needs of survivors and their families are understood and addressed. Safe, stable housing plays a critical role in survivors’ ability to lift themselves out of poverty or prevent falling into poverty.   Homelessness is not an urban or rural issue – it is a Missouri issue. In order to fully prevent and end homelessness, coordinated efforts need to be strengthened on the federal down to local level. Advocates and survivors consistently identify housing as a primary need. We are hopeful the HEALS Act will help to prioritize reinvestment in the housing needs of survivors." – Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence