SUNSHINE STATE NEWS
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Lamar Smith Team Up on Housing for Domestic Violence Survivors
By KEVIN DERBY
October 4, 2016 - 6:15pm
Last week, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., one of Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton’s top allies, teamed up with a fierce critic of the Democratic nominee to propose altering the Fair Housing Act to protect domestic violence survivors and sexual assault victims.
The Florida Democrat teamed up with U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, a critic of the Clintons, to bring out the “Fair Housing for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Survivors Act” which would “provide protection for survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault under the Fair Housing Act.” In the Senate, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, is sponsoring the proposal.
Wasserman Schultz explained why she had launched the bill. “When a woman is the victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, she needs the law to be on her side, and I am proud to introduce the Fair Housing for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Survivors Act with my colleague, Congressman Lamar Smith, to help reduce homelessness and reform unfair laws that punish victims instead of supporting them,” she said. “As a nation, we must continue to do everything we can to protect our sexual assault and domestic violence survivors, and ensure that our legal system is working for them, not against them. This bill will provide the necessary legal framework to combat housing discrimination against survivors and ensure they are protected under the Fair Housing Act. I thank Senator Shaheen who continues to be a leader in the Senate on sexual assault issues, and the broad coalition of organizations who support this critical legislation.”
“This bill ensures that domestic violence and sexual assault survivors have necessary access to housing, enabling them to feel safe as they build the next chapter in their lives,” Smith said.
“Domestic violence and sexual assault survivors have so many obstacles to overcome – it’s unconscionable that women are removed from their homes and face repeated discrimination simply because of the crimes committed against them,” said Shaheen. “Survivors of these crimes need our support. We need to establish policies that support survivors of domestic assault and sexual assault, and reduce homelessness caused by violence at home. Thank you Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz and Congressman Smith for introducing this important bill in the House – this legislation is a meaningful step to change the culture surrounding domestic violence and sexual assault."
The bill has been endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, the NAACP, the Jewish Federations of North America, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and other groups. Four Democrats in the Florida delegation--Alan Grayson, Alcee Hastings, Patrick Murphy and Frederica Wilson--have joined on as co-sponsors.
Smith, the chairman of the U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, is pushing FBI Director James Comey to reopen an FBI’s investigation of Clinton for using a private server for her email when she led the State Department.