A bill to exempt domestic violence shelters from submitting personal information about their residents will go before the full House with a favorable recommendation from the Committee on Financial Services. Currently, the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) McKinney-Vento Act requires all shelters, transitional housing programs, homeless shelters, and emergency shelters receiving funds to submit the names and other identifying information of those using the facility to the new Homeless Management Information System. Employees of federal, state and local agencies can then access this database, leaving domestic violence victims open to discovery.
The new legislation, introduced by Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI) and cosponsored by Ranking Committee Member Barney Frank (D-MA) and Katherine Harris (R-FL), is called the Safe Housing Identity Exemption for the Lives of Domestic Violence Victims (SHIELD) Act, and passed committee by a unanimous voice vote. The bill (H.R. 2695) exempts anyone identified as a “victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking” from identification, as well as the parents or children of such victims who may also be in shelter housing.
In a statement, Moore said “This bill will make certain that the anonymity of victims of domestic violence remains secure… Unless the current HUD rules are amended, the identities and locations of hundreds of thousands could be exposed to those who wish to hurt or even kill them.”