Policies

If you would like to view and download these policy documents please follow this link to the Policy Documents page.

LEASE ADDENDUM FOR DRUG-FREE HOUSING

In consideration of the execution or renewal of a lease of the dwelling unit identified in the lease, Owner and Tenant agree as follows:

1. Tenant, any members of the Tenant’s household, or a guest or other person under the Tenant’s control shall not engage in criminal activity, including drug-related criminal activity, on or near project premises. “Drug-related criminal activity” means the illegal manufacture, sale, distribution, use, or possession with intent to manufacture, sell, distribute, or use of a controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substance Act (21 U.S.C. 802).

2. Tenant, any member of the Tenant’s household, or a guest or other person under the Tenant’s control shall not engage in any act intended to facilitate criminal activity, including drug-related criminal activity, on or near project premises.

3. Tenant or members of the household will not permit the dwelling unit to be used for or facilitate criminal activity, including drug-related criminal activity, regardless of whether the individual engaging in such activity is a member of the household or a guest.

4. Tenant or members of the household will not engage in the manufacture, sale, or distribution of illegal drugs at any location, whether on or near project premises or otherwise.

5. Tenant, any member of Tenant’s household, or a guest or other person under the Tenant’s control shall not engage in acts of violence or threats of violence, including, but not limited to , the unlawful discharge of firearms, on or near the premises.

6. VIOLATION OF THE ABOVE PROVISIONS SHALL BE A MATERIAL VIOLATION OF THE LEASE AND GOOD CAUSE FOR TERMINATION OF TENANCY. A single violation of any of the provisions of this added addendum shall be deemed a serious violation and a material noncompliance with the lease. It is understood and agreed that a single violation shall be good cause for termination of the lease. Unless otherwise provided by law, proof of violation shall not require criminal conviction, but shall be by a preponderance of the evidence.

7. In case of conflict between the provisions of this addendum and any other provisions of the lease, the provisions of the addendum shall govern.

8. This Lease Addendum is incorporated into the lease executed or renewed this day between Owner and Tenant.

Housekeeping Standards Policy

In an effort to improve the livability and conditions of the apartments owned and managed by the Authority, uniform standards for resident housekeeping have been developed for all resident families.

 

  • Authority Responsibility

 

The standards that follow will be applied fairly and uniformly to all Residents. The Authority will inspect each unit at least annually, to determine compliance with the standards. Upon completion of an inspection the Authority will notify the Resident in writing if he/she fails to comply with the standards. The Authority will advise the Resident of the correction(s) required to establish compliance, and indicate that training is available. Within a reasonable period of time, the Authority will schedule a second inspection. Failure of a second inspection will constitute a violation of the Lease terms.

 

  • Resident Responsibility

 

The Resident is required to abide by the standards set forth below. Failure to abide by the Housekeeping Standards is a violation of the Lease terms and can result in eviction.

 

  • Interior Standards

 

  1. General:
  1. Walls: should be clean, free of dirt, grease, holes, cobwebs, and fingerprints.
  2. Floors: should be clean, clear, and free of hazards.
  3. Ceilings: should be clean and free of cobwebs.
  4. Light Fixtures: should be free of any dust build-up; light covers in place and not broken.
  5. Windows: should be clean and not nailed shut.  Shades should be intact.
  6. Woodwork: should be clean, free of dust, gouges, or scratches.
  7. Doors: should be clean, free of grease and fingerprints.  Doorstops should be present. Locks should work.
  8. Heating units & Water Heater Closet: should be accessible (no locks, no clutter) dusted and not used for storage.
  9. Infestation: No evidence of rodents or insect infestation; bait stations and traps clean.
  10. Electric Hazards: No electrical cords running loosely across floors; no overloads, no hazards.
  11. Trash: shall be disposed of properly and not left in the unit.
  12. Evidence of Pet: litter box, cage, and/or fish tank clean and odor free; no evidence of urine or damage caused by pet.
  1. Kitchen:
  1. Stove: should be clean and free of food and grease.
  2. Refrigerator: should be clean. Freezer door should close properly and freezer have no more than one inch of ice. No stickers (decals) on refrigerators.
  3. Cabinets: should be clean and neat. Cabinet surfaces and countertops should be free of grease and spilled food. Cabinets should not be overloaded. Storage under the sink should be limited to small or lightweight items to permit access for repairs. Do not store heavy pots and pans under the sink.
  4. Exhaust Fan: should be free of grease and dust.
  5. Sink: should be clean, free of grease and garbage. Dirty dishes should be washed and put away in a timely manner.
  6. Food storage areas: should be neat and clean without spilled food.
  7. Trash/garbage: should be stored in a covered container until removed to the disposal area.
  1. Bathroom(s):
  1. Toilet and tank: should be clean and odor free.
  2. Tub and shower: should be clean and free of excessive mildew and mold. Where applicable, shower curtains should be in place, and of adequate length.
  3. Lavatory/Countertop: should be clean.
  4. Exhaust fans: should be free of dust.
  1. Storage Areas:
  1. Linen closet: should be neat and clean.
  2. Other closets: should be neat and clean. No flammable materials should be stored in the unit.
  3. Other storage areas: should be clean, neat and free of hazards.

 

  • Exterior Standards

 

The following standards apply to family and scattered site developments only; some standards apply only when the area noted is for the exclusive use of the Resident:

  1. Yards/Grassy Area: should be free of debris, trash, indoor furniture and abandoned cars.  
  2. Exterior walls: should be free of graffiti.
  3. Porches (front and rear): should be clean and free of hazards. Any items stored on the porch shall not impede access to the unit.
  4. Steps (front and rear): should be clean, and free of hazards.
  5. Sidewalks: should be clean and free of hazards.
  6. Storm/Screen Doors: should be clean; glass intact; no damage
  7. Parking Area: should be free of abandoned cars. There should be no car repair in the lots.
  8. Hallway/Stairwell: should be swept clean and free of debris; free of any tripping hazards.
  9. Laundry Area: should be swept clean; no soiled laundry piled up; lint removed from dryer; dryer vented to outside.
  10. Utility/Storage Area: should be free of trash; no vehicle parts stored; no flammable materials.
  11. Discarded Food/Grease: No evidence of grease or food disposed of outside of unit; no feeding dished for animals outside of unit
  12. Other: Laundry and yard tools should not be left out overnight.

BENNINGTON HOUSING AUTHORITY

Emergency Transfer Plan for Victims of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking

PUBLIC HOUSING PROGRAM

Emergency Transfers

The Bennington Housing Authority (“BHA”) is concerned about the safety of its Public Housing   residents, and such concern extends to residents who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  In accordance with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), BHA allows residents who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to request an emergency transfer from the program participant’s current unit to another unit or another public housing development.  The ability to request a transfer is available regardless of sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation.  The ability of BHA to honor such arequest, however, may depend upon a preliminary determination that the program participant is or has been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. 

This plan identifies residents who are eligible for an emergency transfer, the documentation needed to request an emergency transfer, confidentiality protections, how an emergency transfer may occur, and guidance to program participants on safety and security.  This plan is based on a model emergency transfer plan published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Federal agency that oversees that the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program is in compliance with VAWA.

Eligibility for Emergency Transfers

A resident who is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, as provided in HUD’s regulations at 24 CFR part 5, subpart L is eligible for an emergency transfer, if: the resident reasonably believes that there is a threat of imminent harm from further violence if the resident remains within the same unit. If the resident is a victim of sexual assault, the resident may also be eligible to transfer if the sexual assault occurred on the premises within the 90-calendar-day period preceding a request for an emergency transfer.

A resident requesting an emergency transfer must expressly request the transfer in accordance with the procedures described in this plan.  

Residents who are not in good standing may still request an emergency transfer if they meet the eligibility requirements in this section.  

Emergency Transfer Request Documentation

To request an emergency transfer, resident shall notify and submit an Emergency Transfer Request form to the Executive Director, Bennington Housing Authority, 22 Willow Brook drive, Bennington, Vermont 05201.   A copy of the Emergency Transfer Request Form is attached to this plan and will be provided to any program participant upon request.

BHA will provide reasonable accommodations to this policy for individuals with disabilities.  The resident’s written request for an emergency transfer should include either:

1. A statement expressing that the resident reasonably believes that there is a threat of imminent harm from further violence if the resident were to remain in the same dwelling unit; OR

2. A statement that the resident was a sexual assault victim and that the sexual assault occurred on the premises during the 90-calendar-day period preceding the resident’s request for an emergency transfer.  

Confidentiality

BHA will keep confidential any information that the resident submits in requesting an emergency transfer, and information about the emergency transfer, unless the resident gives BHA written permission to release the information on a time limited basis, or disclosure of the information is required by law or required for use in an eviction proceeding or hearing regarding termination of assistance from the covered program. This includes keeping confidential the new location of the dwelling unit of the resident, if one is provided, from the person(s) that committed an act(s) of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking against the program participant.  See the Notice of Occupancy Rights under the Violence Against Women Act for more information about BHA’s responsibility to maintain the confidentiality of information related to incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Emergency Transfer Timing and Availability

BHA cannot guarantee that a transfer request will be approved or how long it will take to process a transfer request.  BHA will, however, act as quickly to assist a resident who is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to move to another eligible Public housingunit, subject to the availability and safety of a unit that is acceptable to the resident.    If a unit is available, the transferred resident must agree to abide by the terms and conditions that govern occupancy in the unit to which the resident has been transferred.  BHA may be unable to transfer a resident to a particular unit if the resident has not or cannot establish eligibility for that unit.    

If  there are no available and safe units in BHA’s public housing developments, BHA will assist the resident in identifying other housing providers who may have safe and available units to which the resident could move.  At the resident’s request, BHA will also assist the resident in contacting the local organization offering assistance to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Safety and Security of Public Housing residents

Pending processing of the transfer and the actual transfer, if it is approved and occurs, the resident is urged to take all reasonable precautions to be safe.  

Residents who are or have been victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or a local domestic violence shelter, for assistance in creating a safety plan.  For persons with hearing impairments, that hotline can be accessed by calling 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).  

Residents who have been victims of sexual assault may call the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network’s National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE, or visit the online hotline at https://ohl.rainn.org/online/.  

Residents who are or have been victims of stalking seeking help may visit the National Center for Victims of Crime’s Stalking Resource Center at https://www.victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/stalking-resource-center.

The following local organization also offers assistance to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. 

PROJECT AGAINST VIOLENT ENCOUNTERS (PAVE) 442-2111

ATTACHMENT:  Emergency Transfer Request Form

Grievance Procedures

  1. Purpose and Scope 

The purpose of these Grievance Procedures is to assure that the Bennington Housing Authority (hereinafter referred to as BHA) residents are afforded an opportunity for a hearing, if the resident disputes within a reasonable time, any BHA action or failure to act, involving the resident’s lease, or BHA regulations which adversely affect the individual resident’s right’s, duties, welfare or status. 

  1. Additional areas covered by these procedures include the:
  1. Community Service and Self-Sufficiency Requirements
  2. Income changes resulting from welfare program requirements  
  3. Improper disclosure or inappropriate use of information obtained by the BHA through criminal records, sex offender registration records, drug abuse treatment facility records and domestic violence records.

The Grievance Procedure shall be applicable to all individual grievances as defined herein. 

  1. Governing Law

The law governing this grievance procedure is Section 6 (K) of the U.S. Housing Act of 1937 (42 U.S.C. sec. 1437 d (K) and subpart B of 24 CFR part 966 (24 CFR secs. 966.50-966.57).

  1. Definitions

The following definitions of terms shall be applicable to this grievance procedure:

  1. Grievance: Any dispute which a resident may have with respect to an action or a failure to act by the BHA in accordance with the individual resident’s lease or BHA regulations, which adversely affects the individual resident’s rights, duties, welfare or status.
  2. CFR: The Code of Federal Regulations, which contains the federal regulations governing this grievance procedure.
  3. Complainant: Any resident (as defined in this section below) whose grievance is presented to the BHA or at the project management office in accordance with the requirements set forth in this procedure.
  4. Drug-related criminal activity: The illegal manufacture, sale, distribution, use or possession with intent to manufacture, sell, distribute, or use a controlled substance, as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. sec. 802) as from time to time amended.
  5. “Authority”: Bennington Housing Authority, a body corporate organized and existing under the laws of the State of Vermont.
  1. Elements of Due Process: The following procedural safeguards are required to be followed in an eviction action or a termination of tenancy in a state or local court:
  1. Adequate notice to the resident of the grounds for terminating the tenancy and for eviction;
  2. Right of the resident to be represented by counsel;
  3. Opportunity for the resident to refute the evidence presented by the BHA, including the right to confront and cross examine witnesses and to present any affirmative legal or equitable defense which the resident may have; and
  4. A decision on the merits.
  1. Hearing Officer or Hearing Panel: An impartial person or persons selected by the BHA, other than the person who made or approved the decision under review, or a subordinate of that person.  Such individual or individuals do not need legal training. 
  2. HUD: The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  3. Notice: As used herein, the term notice shall, unless otherwise specifically provided, mean written notice.
  4. The “Regulations”: The HUD regulations contained in subpart B of 24 CFR sec. 966.
  5. Resident organization: An organization of residents, which includes any resident management corporation.
  6. Resident: The adult person (or persons) other than a live-in aid:
  1. Who resides in the unit and who executed the lease with the BHA as lessee of the dwelling unit, or, if no such persons reside in the unit;
  2. The person who resides in the unit, and who is the remaining head of the household of the resident family residing in the dwelling unit.
  1. Business Days: Monday through Friday of each week, except for legal holidays recognized by the federal government and/or local city government.
  1. Incorporation in Leases

This grievance procedure shall be included in, or incorporated by reference in, all dwelling leases between the residents and the BHA. 

  1. Exceptions

These procedures are applicable to all individual grievances, as defined in the BHA’s Definitions section of these policies, between the resident and the BHA with the following exceptions:

  1. The BHA’s grievance procedures are not applicable to disputes between residents not involving the BHA, or to class grievances. 
  2. The grievance procedures are not intended as a forum for initiating or negotiating policy changes between a group or groups of residents and the BHA’s Board of Commissioners; and
  3. HUD has issued a due process determination that the law of the State of Vermont requires that the resident be given the opportunity for a hearing in court that provides the basic elements of due process (as defined in the Definition section of these policies) before eviction from a dwelling unit. Therefore, the BHA has elected to determine that this grievance procedure shall not be applicable to any termination of tenancy or eviction that involves:
  1. Any criminal activity that threatens the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents or employees of BHA; or
  2. Any violent or drug-related criminal activity on or off such premises; or
  3. Any criminal activity that resulted in felony conviction of a household member.

However, improper use of or disclosure of information obtained by the BHA through criminal records, sex offender registration records and drug abuse treatment facility records, may be the subject of a grievance by a tenant of the BHA.

  1. Processing Grievances

The primary objective of this process is to settle grievances at the lowest level and as quickly as possible and minimize impact upon the BHA’s operations. Except as stated in paragraphs A. and B. above, the BHA’s procedures shall afford each resident an opportunity for a hearing on a grievance, in accordance with the requirements, standards, and criteria contained in these procedures, with such modifications as are required by State law. The process for handling grievances is outlined below.

  1. Informal Settlement of Grievance
  1. Grievances shall be personally presented, either orally or in writing, to the BHA’s central office, or to the office of the development in which the complainant resides, so that the grievance may be discussed informally and settled without a hearing. This notice should be given within thirty (30) business days after the occurrence giving rise to the grievance.
  2. A summary of such discussion shall be prepared within five (5) business days. One copy shall be given to the resident and one shall be retained in the BHA’s resident file.

The summary shall specify the names of the participants, dates of the meetings, nature of the compliant, the proposed disposition of the complaint, and the specific reasons therefore, and the procedures by which a hearing may be obtained if the resident is not satisfied.

  1. The summary shall specify:
    1. The names of the participants, 
    2. Dates of the meetings, 
    3. The nature of the proposed disposition of the complainant and the specific reasons therefore, 
    4. The rights of the complainant to a hearing, and
    5. The procedures by which a hearing may be obtained if the resident is not satisfied.
  1. The BHA shall specifically include notice to the complainant of the following:
  1. The time limit to request a grievance hearing;
  2. The grievance will be heard by a hearing officer or a hearing panel, and the procedures for selecting the hearing officer or hearing panel;
  3. What specifically must be included in the complainant’s written request for a grievance, as provided in paragraph 1.b of the BHA’s Procedures to Obtain a Hearing;
  4. If the complainant fails to request a hearing within the required time period (5 business days) after receiving the summary, the BHA’s decision rendered at the Informal Settlement conference becomes final. However, the complainant does not waive the right to contest the BHA’s action in an appropriate judicial proceeding;
  5. The complainant’s rights to be represented by counsel or other representative at the grievance hearing; and
  6. The complainant requesting a hearing has a right to examine any BHA documents relevant to the hearing, including records and regulations. The complainant shall be allowed to obtain a copy from the BHA of any such documentation at the complainant’s expense, as stated in the “Charges in Addition to Rent” schedule.
  1. Procedures to Obtain a Hearing
  1. Request for a Hearing:
  1. The complainant shall submit a written request for a hearing to the BHA, or to the development office, within five (5) business days after receipt of the written summary of the Informal Settlement conference.
  2. The written request shall specify:
  1. The reasons for the grievance;
  2. The action or relief sought;
  3. The complainant’s statement setting forth the times at which the complainant will be available for a hearing during the next ten (10) business days;
  4. Complainant’s preference, if any, concerning whether the grievance should be heard by a single hearing officer or by a hearing panel.
  1. If the complainant fails to request a hearing within five (5) business days after receiving the written summary of the Informal Settlement conference, the BHA’s decision rendered at the Informal Settlement conference becomes final and the BHA is not thereafter obligated to offer the complainant a hearing.
  2. Should the complainant fail to request a hearing, such failure shall not constitute a waiver by the complainant of his/her right thereafter to contest the BHA’s action in disposing of the complaint in an appropriate judicial proceeding.
  1. Selection of Hearing Officer or Hearing Panel:
  1. Grievances shall be presented before a hearing officer or hearing panel.
  2. The hearing officer or hearing panel shall be an impartial, disinterested person selected by the BHA.  The hearing officer or hearing panel shall not be:
  1. The person who made or approved the decision, or
  2. A subordinate of the person who made or approved the decision.
  1. Hearing Prerequisite:
  1. All grievances shall be personally presented, either orally or in writing, pursuant to the informal procedure prescribed in the paragraph on Informal Settlement of Grievance as a condition precedent to a hearing under this section.
  2. If the complainant shows good cause why he/she failed to proceed in accordance with the paragraph on Informal Settlement of Grievance, the provisions of this subsection may be waived by the hearing officer or hearing panel.
  1. Escrow Deposit:
  1. Before a hearing is scheduled in any grievance involving the amount of Tenant Rent which the BHA claims is due, the resident shall pay into an escrow account, an amount equal to the amount of the Tenant Rent due and payable as of the first of the month preceding the month in which the act or failure to act took place.
  2. The resident shall thereafter deposit the same amount of the Tenant Rent into that escrow account monthly, until the complaint is resolved by decision of the hearing officer or hearing panel.
  3. The BHA may waive these requirements in extenuating circumstances. Unless so waived, failure to make such payments shall result in termination of the grievance procedures.
  4. Failure to make payment shall not constitute a waiver of any right the resident may have to contest the BHA’s disposition of the resident’s grievance in any appropriate judicial proceeding.
  5. Escrow deposits are not required for grievances related to minimum rent hardships and welfare reductions.
  1. Scheduling Hearings:
  1. The hearing officer or hearing panel shall promptly schedule the hearing, for a time and place reasonably convenient to both the complainant and the BHA, upon the complainant’s compliance with the above requirements.
  2. A written notification specifying the time, place, and the procedures governing the hearing shall be delivered to the complainant and the appropriate BHA official. 
  3. The hearing may be conducted through electronic communications such as teleconference or web meetings.
  1. Procedures Governing the Hearing
  1. Official or Panel: The hearing shall be held before a hearing officer or a hearing panel, as appropriate.
  2. Safeguards of Due Process: The complainant shall be afforded a fair hearing providing the basic safeguards of due process, which include the following:
  1. The opportunity to examine documents before the hearing, and to copy all documents, records, and regulations of the BHA that are relevant to the hearing at the expense of the complainant. Any requested document not made available to the complainant may not be relied on by the BHA at the hearing;
  2. The right to be represented by counsel or other person chosen as the complainant’s representative;
  3. The right to a private hearing, unless the complainant requests a public hearing;
  4. The right to present evidence and arguments in support of the complainant’s complaint, to controvert evidence relied on by the BHA or development management, and to confront and cross examine all witnesses on whose testimony or information the BHA or development management relies; and
  5. A decision based solely and exclusively upon the facts presented at the hearing.
  1. Previous Decision

The hearing officer or hearing panel may render a decision without proceeding with the hearing, if the hearing officer or hearing panel determines that the issue has been previously decided in another proceeding.

  1. Failure to Appear:
  1. If the complainant or the BHA fails to appear at a scheduled hearing, the hearing officer or hearing panel may make a determination to postpone the hearing, for a period not to exceed five (5) business days, or may make a determination that the party has waived his or her right to a hearing.
  2. The hearing officer or hearing panel shall notify both the complainant and the BHA of the determination.
  3. A determination that the complainant has waived his or her right to a hearing shall not constitute a waiver of any right the complainant may have to contest the BHA’s disposition of the grievance in an appropriate judicial proceeding.
  1. Entitlement and Justification:
  1. At the hearing, the complainant must first make a showing of an entitlement to the relief sought.
  2. Thereafter, the BHA must sustain the burden of justifying the BHA’s action or failure to act against which the complaint is directed.
  1. Conduct of the Hearing:
  1. The hearing shall be conducted informally by the hearing officer or hearing panel.
  2. Oral or documentary evidence pertinent to the facts and issues raised by the complainant may be received without regard to admissibility under the rules of evidence applicable to judicial proceedings.
  3. The hearing officer or hearing panel shall require the BHA, the complainant, legal counsel, and other participants or spectators to conduct themselves in an orderly fashion. Failure to comply with the directions of the hearing officer or hearing panel to obtain order may result in exclusion from the proceedings, or in a decision adverse to the interests of the disorderly party, and granting or denial of the relief sought, as appropriate.
  1. Transcript:
  1. The complainant or the BHA may arrange, in advance and at the expense of the party making the arrangement, for a transcript of the hearing.
  2. Any interested party may purchase a copy of such transcript.
  1. Accommodation to Persons with Disabilities

The BHA will provide reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities throughout the grievance process. 

This includes, but is not limited to, accommodating tenants with disabilities by accepting grievances at alternate sites or by mail, having BHA staff reduce an oral request for a grievance to writing for a tenant with a disability who cannot write due to the disability, and providing accommodations in the grievance hearing itself by providing qualified sign language interpreters, readers, accessible locations or attendants.

If the resident is visually impaired, any notice to the resident which is required under this section must be in an accessible format.

  1. Limited English Proficiency

The BHA must comply with HUD’s “Final Guidance to Federal Financial Assistance Recipients Regarding Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Persons” issued on January 22, 2007 and available at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/promotingfh/lep-faq. 

  1. Decision of the Hearing Officer or Hearing Panel
  1. The hearing officer or hearing panel shall prepare a written decision, together with the reasons therefore, within a reasonable time after the hearing (usually within 10 business days).
  2. A copy of the decision shall be sent to the complainant and the BHA.
  3. The BHA shall retain a copy of the decision in the resident’s folder.
  4. The BHA must maintain a log of all hearing officer or hearing panel decisions and make it available upon request of the hearing officer or hearing panel, a prospective complainant, or a prospective complainant’s representative.  At a minimum, the log must include:
    1. The date of the hearing decision,
    2. The general reason for the grievance hearing (failure to pay rent, CSSR noncompliance, etc.), and
    3. Whether the decision was in the favor of the complainant or the BHA
  1. Subsequent Actions

The decision of the hearing officer or hearing panel shall be binding on the BHA, which shall take all actions, or refrain from any actions, necessary to carry out the decision, unless the Board of Commissioners determines, within ten (10) business days, and promptly notifies the complainant of its determination, that:

  1. The grievance does not concern BHA action or failure to act in accordance with or involving the complainant’s lease or BHA regulations, which adversely affect the complainant’s rights, duties, welfare, or status; and
  2. The decision of the hearing officer or hearing panel is contrary to applicable Federal, State, or local law, HUD regulations, or requirements of the Annual Contributions Contract between HUD and the BHA.
  1. Judicial Proceedings

A decision by the hearing officer, hearing panel, or Board of Commissioners, in favor of the BHA, or which denies the relief requested by the complainant, in whole or in part, shall not constitute a waiver of, nor affect in any manner whatever, any rights the complainant may have to a trial de novo or judicial review in any judicial proceedings, which may thereafter be brought in the matter.

  1. BHA Notice 

Notices under this grievance procedure shall be deemed delivered:

  1. Upon personal service thereof to the complainant or an adult member (18 years of age or older) of the complainant’s household;
  2. Upon the date receipted for or refused by the addressee, in the case of certified or registered U.S. Mail; or
  3. On the second business day after first class mailing, with the U.S. Postal Service.
  1. Concurrent Notice

If a complainant has filed a request for grievance hearing in a case involving the BHA’s notice of termination of tenancy, the complainant should be aware that the State law notice to vacate and the notice of termination of tenancy required under Federal law can run concurrently.

If the hearing officer or hearing panel upholds the BHA’s action to terminate the tenancy, the BHA may commence an eviction action in court by the later of:

  1. The expiration of the date for termination of tenancy and vacation of premises stated in the delivered termination notice, or
  2. The delivery of the report of decision of the hearing officer or panel to complainant.
  1. Modification

This grievance procedure may not be amended or modified except by approval of a majority of the Board of Commissioners of the BHA, present at a regular meeting or a special meeting called for such purposes.

  1. The BHA must provide for at least thirty (30) days advance notice to residents and resident organizations of any changes proposed to be made to this grievance procedure, setting forth the proposed changes and providing an opportunity to present written comments.
  2. The BHA shall consider any comments submitted before final adoption of any amendments.

A copy of the Bennington Housing Authority Grievance Form can be downloaded from the Forms and Documents page.

BENNINGTON HOUSING AUTHORITY (“BHA”)

PUBLIC HOUSING PROGRAM

Public Housing Program

 

Notice of Occupancy Rights under the Violence Against Women Act

To all Tenants and Applicants

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides protections for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  VAWA protections are not only available to women, but are available equally to all individuals regardless of sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the Federal agency that oversees that the Public Housing Programs are in compliance with VAWA.  This notice explains your rights under VAWA.  A HUD-approved certification form is attached to this notice.  You can fill out this form to show that you are or have been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and that you wish to use your rights under VAWA.”  

Protections for Applicants

If you otherwise qualify for assistance under Public Housing Program, you cannot be denied admission or denied assistance because you are or have been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.   

Protections for Tenants

If you are receiving assistance under the Public Housing Program, you may not be denied assistance, terminated from participation, or be evicted from your rental housing because you are or have been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.   

Also, if you or an affiliated individual of yours is or has been the victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking by a member of your household or any guest, you may not be denied rental assistance or occupancy rights under Public Housing Program solely on the basis of criminal activity directly relating to that domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Affiliated individual means your spouse, parent, brother, sister, or child, or a person to whom you stand in the place of a parent or guardian (for example, the affiliated individual is in your care, custody, or control); or any individual, tenant, or lawful occupant living in your household.

Removing the Abuser or Perpetrator from the Household

BHA may divide (bifurcate) your lease in order to evict the individual or terminate the assistance of the individual who has engaged in criminal activity (the abuser or perpetrator) directly relating to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  

If BHA chooses to remove the abuser or perpetrator, BHA may not take away the rights of eligible tenants to the unit or otherwise punish the remaining tenants.  If the evicted abuser or perpetrator was the sole tenant to have established eligibility for assistance under the program, BHA must allow the tenant who is or has been a victim and other household members to remain in the unit for a period of time, in order to establish eligibility under the program or under another HUD housing program covered by VAWA, or, find alternative housing.  

In removing the abuser or perpetrator from the household, BHA must follow Federal, State, and local eviction procedures.  In order to divide a lease, BHA may, but is not required to, ask you for documentation or certification of the incidences of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Moving to Another Unit

Upon your request, BHA may permit you to move to another unit, subject to the availability of other units, and still keep your assistance.  In order to approve a request, BHA may ask you to provide documentation that you are requesting to move because of an incidence of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  If the request is a request for emergency transfer, the housing provider may ask you to submit a written request or fill out a form where you certify that you meet the criteria for an emergency transfer under VAWA.  The criteria are:

(1) You are a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  If your housing provider does not already have documentation that you are a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, your housing provider may ask you for such documentation, as described in the documentation section below.

(2) You expressly request the emergency transfer.  Your housing provider may choose to require that you submit a form, or may accept another written or oral request.  

(3) You reasonably believe you are threatened with imminent harm from further violence if you remain in your current unit.  This means you have a reason to fear that if you do not receive a transfer you would suffer violence in the very near future.  

OR

You are a victim of sexual assault and the assault occurred on the premises during the 90-calendar-day period before you request a transfer.  If you are a victim of sexual assault, then in addition to qualifying for an emergency transfer because you reasonably believe you are threatened with imminent harm from further violence if you remain in your unit, you may qualify for an emergency transfer if the sexual assault occurred on the premises of the property from which you are seeking your transfer, and that assault happened within the 90-calendar-day period before you expressly request the transfer.     

 

BHA will keep confidential requests for emergency transfers by victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and the location of any move by such victims and their families.

 

BHA’s emergency transfer plan provides further information on emergency transfers, and BHA must make a copy of its emergency transfer plan available to you if you ask to see it.

Documenting You Are or Have Been a Victim of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault or Stalking

BHA can, but is not required to, ask you to provide documentation to “certify” that you are or have been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  Such request from BHA must be in writing, and BHA must give you at least 14 business days (Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays do not count) from the day you receive the request to provide the documentation.  BHA may, but does not have to, extend the deadline for the submission of documentation upon your request.

You can provide one of the following to BHA as documentation.  It is your choice which of the following to submit if BHA asks you to provide documentation that you are or have been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

A complete HUD-approved certification form given to you by BHA with this notice, that documents an incident of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. The form will ask for your name, the date, time, and location of the incident of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and a description of the incident.  The certification form provides for including the name of the abuser or perpetrator if the name of the abuser or perpetrator is known and is safe to provide.

A record of a Federal, State, tribal, territorial, or local law enforcement agency, court, or administrative agency that documents the incident of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  Examples of such records include police reports, protective orders, and restraining orders, among others.

A statement, which you must sign, along with the signature of an employee, agent, or volunteer of a victim service provider, an attorney, a medical professional or a mental health professional (collectively, “professional”) from whom you sought assistance in addressing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, or the effects of abuse, and with the professional selected by you attesting under penalty of perjury that he or she believes that the incident or incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking are grounds for protection.

Any other statement or evidence that BHA has agreed to accept.

If you fail or refuse to provide one of these documents within the 14 business days, BHA does not have to provide you with the protections contained in this notice.

If BHA receives conflicting evidence that an incident of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking has been committed (such as certification forms from two or more members of a household each claiming to be a victim and naming one or more of the other petitioning household members as the abuser or perpetrator), BHA has the right to request that you provide third-party documentation within thirty 30 calendar days in order to resolve the conflict.  If you fail or refuse to provide third-party documentation where there is conflicting evidence, BHA does not have to provide you with the protections contained in this notice.

Confidentiality

BHA must keep confidential any information you provide related to the exercise of your rights under VAWA, including the fact that you are exercising your rights under VAWA.  

BHA must not allow any individual administering assistance or other services on behalf of BHA (for example, employees and contractors) to have access to confidential information unless for reasons that specifically call for these individuals to have access to this information under applicable Federal, State, or local law.

BHA must not enter your information into any shared database or disclose your information to any other entity or individual.  BHA, however, may disclose the information provided if:

You give written permission to BHA to release the information on a time limited basis.

BHA needs to use the information in an eviction or termination proceeding, such as to evict your abuser or perpetrator or terminate your abuser or perpetrator from assistance under this program.

A law requires BHA or your landlord to release the information.

VAWA does not limit BHA’s duty to honor court orders about access to or control of the property. This includes orders issued to protect a victim and orders dividing property among household members in cases where a family breaks up.

Reasons a Tenant Eligible for Occupancy Rights under VAWA May Be Evicted or Assistance May Be Terminated

You can be evicted and your assistance can be terminated for serious or repeated lease violations that are not related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking committed against you.  However, BHA cannot hold tenants who have been victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to a more demanding set of rules than it applies to tenants who have not been victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.   

The protections described in this notice might not apply, and you could be evicted and your assistance terminated, if BHA can demonstrate that not evicting you or terminating your assistance would present a real physical danger that:

1)  Would occur within an immediate time frame, and

2)  Could result in death or serious bodily harm to other tenants or those who work on the property.

If BHA can demonstrate the above, BHA should only terminate your assistance or evict you if there are no other actions that could be taken to reduce or eliminate the threat.

Other Laws

VAWA does not replace any Federal, State, or local law that provides greater protection for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  You may be entitled to additional housing protections for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking under other Federal laws, as well as under State and local laws.  

 

Non-Compliance with The Requirements of This Notice

You may report a covered housing provider’s violations of these rights and seek additional assistance, if needed, by contacting or filing a complaint with the HUD Burlington field office at 802-951-6290.

 

For Additional Information

You may view a copy of HUD’s final VAWA rule at: https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=5720-F-03VAWAFinRule.pdf

 

Additionally, BHA must make a copy of HUD’s VAWA regulations available to you if you ask to see them.  

For questions regarding VAWA, please contact the Director of Resident Services at 802-864-0538, extension 265.

For help regarding an abusive relationship, you may call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or, for persons with hearing impairments, 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).  You may also contact Steps to End Domestic Violence at 802-658-1996.  

For tenants who are or have been victims of stalking seeking help may visit the National Center for Victims of Crime’s Stalking Resource Center at https://www.victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/stalking-resource-center.

For help regarding sexual assault, you may contact HOPE Works at 802-863-1236.

Victims of stalking seeking help may contact Steps to End Domestic Violence at 802-658-1996.

 

Attachment:  Certification form HUD-5382

 

BENNINGTON HOUSING AUTHORITY (“BHA”)

SECTION 8 HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER PROGRAM

Tenant Based Voucher Program

Notice of Occupancy Rights under the Violence Against Women Act

To all Tenants and Applicants

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides protections for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  VAWA protections are not only available to women, but are available equally to all individuals regardless of sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the Federal agency that oversees that the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Programs are in compliance with VAWA.  This notice explains your rights under VAWA.  A HUD-approved certification form is attached to this notice.  You can fill out this form to show that you are or have been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and that you wish to use your rights under VAWA.”  

Protections for Applicants

If you otherwise qualify for assistance under Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, you cannot be denied admission or denied assistance because you are or have been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.   

Protections for Tenants

If you are receiving assistance under the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, you may not be denied assistance, terminated from participation, or be evicted from your rental housing because you are or have been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.   

Also, if you or an affiliated individual of yours is or has been the victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking by a member of your household or any guest, you may not be denied rental assistance or occupancy rights under Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program solely on the basis of criminal activity directly relating to that domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Affiliated individual means your spouse, parent, brother, sister, or child, or a person to whom you stand in the place of a parent or guardian (for example, the affiliated individual is in your care, custody, or control); or any individual, tenant, or lawful occupant living in your household.

Removing the Abuser or Perpetrator from the Household

BHA may divide (bifurcate) your lease in order to evict the individual or terminate the assistance of the individual who has engaged in criminal activity (the abuser or perpetrator) directly relating to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  

If BHA chooses to remove the abuser or perpetrator, BHA may not take away the rights of eligible tenants to the unit or otherwise punish the remaining tenants.  If the evicted abuser or perpetrator was the sole tenant to have established eligibility for assistance under the program, BHA must allow the tenant who is or has been a victim and other household members to remain in the unit for a period of time, in order to establish eligibility under the program or under another HUD housing program covered by VAWA, or, find alternative housing.  

In removing the abuser or perpetrator from the household, BHA must follow Federal, State, and local eviction procedures.  In order to divide a lease, BHA may, but is not required to, ask you for documentation or certification of the incidences of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Moving to Another Unit

Upon your request, BHA may permit you to move to another unit, subject to the availability of other units, and still keep your assistance.  In order to approve a request, BHA may ask you to provide documentation that you are requesting to move because of an incidence of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  If the request is a request for emergency transfer, the housing provider may ask you to submit a written request or fill out a form where you certify that you meet the criteria for an emergency transfer under VAWA.  The criteria are:

(1) You are a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  If your housing provider does not already have documentation that you are a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, your housing provider may ask you for such documentation, as described in the documentation section below.

(2) You expressly request the emergency transfer.  Your housing provider may choose to require that you submit a form, or may accept another written or oral request.  

(3) You reasonably believe you are threatened with imminent harm from further violence if you remain in your current unit.  This means you have a reason to fear that if you do not receive a transfer you would suffer violence in the very near future.  

OR

You are a victim of sexual assault and the assault occurred on the premises during the 90-calendar-day period before you request a transfer.  If you are a victim of sexual assault, then in addition to qualifying for an emergency transfer because you reasonably believe you are threatened with imminent harm from further violence if you remain in your unit, you may qualify for an emergency transfer if the sexual assault occurred on the premises of the property from which you are seeking your transfer, and that assault happened within the 90-calendar-day period before you expressly request the transfer.     

BHA will keep confidential requests for emergency transfers by victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and the location of any move by such victims and their families.

BHA’s emergency transfer plan provides further information on emergency transfers, and BHA must make a copy of its emergency transfer plan available to you if you ask to see it.

Documenting You Are or Have Been a Victim of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault or Stalking

BHA can, but is not required to, ask you to provide documentation to “certify” that you are or have been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  Such request from BHA must be in writing, and BHA must give you at least 14 business days (Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays do not count) from the day you receive the request to provide the documentation.  BHA may, but does not have to, extend the deadline for the submission of documentation upon your request.

You can provide one of the following to BHA as documentation.  It is your choice which of the following to submit if BHA asks you to provide documentation that you are or have been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

ï A complete HUD-approved certification form given to you by BHA with this notice, that documents an incident of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. The form will ask for your name, the date, time, and location of the incident of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and a description of the incident.  The certification form provides for including the name of the abuser or perpetrator if the name of the abuser or perpetrator is known and is safe to provide. 

ï A record of a Federal, State, tribal, territorial, or local law enforcement agency, court, or administrative agency that documents the incident of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  Examples of such records include police reports, protective orders, and restraining orders, among others. 

ï A statement, which you must sign, along with the signature of an employee, agent, or volunteer of a victim service provider, an attorney, a medical professional or a mental health professional (collectively, “professional”) from whom you sought assistance in addressing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, or the effects of abuse, and with the professional selected by you attesting under penalty of perjury that he or she believes that the incident or incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking are grounds for protection.

ï Any other statement or evidence that BHA has agreed to accept. 

If you fail or refuse to provide one of these documents within the 14 business days, BHA does not have to provide you with the protections contained in this notice. 

If BHA receives conflicting evidence that an incident of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking has been committed (such as certification forms from two or more members of a household each claiming to be a victim and naming one or more of the other petitioning household members as the abuser or perpetrator), BHA has the right to request that you provide third-party documentation within thirty 30 calendar days in order to resolve the conflict.  If you fail or refuse to provide third-party documentation where there is conflicting evidence, BHA does not have to provide you with the protections contained in this notice.

Confidentiality

BHA must keep confidential any information you provide related to the exercise of your rights under VAWA, including the fact that you are exercising your rights under VAWA.  

BHA must not allow any individual administering assistance or other services on behalf of BHA (for example, employees and contractors) to have access to confidential information unless for reasons that specifically call for these individuals to have access to this information under applicable Federal, State, or local law. 

BHA must not enter your information into any shared database or disclose your information to any other entity or individual.  BHA, however, may disclose the information provided if:

ï You give written permission to BHA to release the information on a time limited basis.

ï BHA needs to use the information in an eviction or termination proceeding, such as to evict your abuser or perpetrator or terminate your abuser or perpetrator from assistance under this program.

ï A law requires BHA or your landlord to release the information.

VAWA does not limit BHA’s duty to honor court orders about access to or control of the property. This includes orders issued to protect a victim and orders dividing property among household members in cases where a family breaks up.

Reasons a Tenant Eligible for Occupancy Rights under VAWA May Be Evicted or Assistance May Be Terminated

You can be evicted and your assistance can be terminated for serious or repeated lease violations that are not related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking committed against you.  However, BHA cannot hold tenants who have been victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to a more demanding set of rules than it applies to tenants who have not been victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.   

The protections described in this notice might not apply, and you could be evicted and your assistance terminated, if BHA can demonstrate that not evicting you or terminating your assistance would present a real physical danger that:

1)  Would occur within an immediate time frame, and 

2)  Could result in death or serious bodily harm to other tenants or those who work on the property.

If BHA can demonstrate the above, BHA should only terminate your assistance or evict you if there are no other actions that could be taken to reduce or eliminate the threat.

Other Laws

VAWA does not replace any Federal, State, or local law that provides greater protection for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  You may be entitled to additional housing protections for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking under other Federal laws, as well as under State and local laws.  

Non-Compliance with The Requirements of This Notice

You may report a covered housing provider’s violations of these rights and seek additional assistance, if needed, by contacting or filing a complaint with the HUD Burlington field office at 802-951-6290. 

For Additional Information

You may view a copy of HUD’s final VAWA rule at: https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=5720-F-03VAWAFinRule.pdf 

Additionally, BHA must make a copy of HUD’s VAWA regulations available to you if you ask to see them.  

For questions regarding VAWA, please contact the Director of Resident Services at 802-864-0538, extension 265. 

For help regarding an abusive relationship, you may call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or, for persons with hearing impairments, 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).  You may also contact Steps to End Domestic Violence at 802-658-1996.  

For tenants who are or have been victims of stalking seeking help may visit the National Center for Victims of Crime’s Stalking Resource Center at https://www.victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/stalking-resource-center.

For help regarding sexual assault, you may contact HOPE Works at 802-863-1236.

Victims of stalking seeking help may contact Steps to End Domestic Violence at 802-658-1996.

Attachment:  Certification form HUD-5382