Bill increases access to housing and orders of protection

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ALBANY, NY (WENY) — Some survivors of domestic and sexual violence face barriers when trying to find housing or use an order of protection as evidence in court.

“The lack of having someplace else to live could result in a victim staying in an abusive situation,” said Joan Gerhardt, Director of Public Policy and the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

This week in the Senate, lawmakers passed two bills that intend to address these barriers.

One bill establishes a uniform waiting list for domestic violence survivors applying for public housing.

“If you’ve been a victim of domestic violence, if you have had troubles that should be one of the least of your concerns, to be able to have stable and safe housing,” said Sen. Jamaal Bailey (D-36th Senate District).

And another bill would enable prosecutors to access sealed prior orders of protection.

Sen. Senator Nathalia Fernandez (D-34th Senate District), this bills sponsor, said this legislation would help victims build a case against their abuser.

“What this will do is to prove that what they are saying is happening and to get them the justice that they deserve and the safety that they need,” Fernandez said.

Gerhardt said it’s important for these cases to be able to show a pattern of abuse.

“In order for prosecutors to charge abusers, who are repeat offenders of orders of protection, with criminal contempt, they have to have access to prior orders of protection,” she said.

Both bills have to be passed in the Assembly and signed by the Governor before becoming law.


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