Municipalities across the United States are evicting domestic abuse victims from their homes. Officials term these evictions as “nuisance evictions,” which occur when too many police calls are made to a specific residence.
Since women make up the bulk of domestic abuse victims, they also make up the vast majority of those evicted under these rules. Fearing evictions, some domestic abuse victims elect to endure abuse rather than face eviction. One such “disorderly behavior” ordinance is in place in Norristown, PA, where it is possible for someone to lose their home if the police respond to calls three times within four months.
Such was the case for one Norristown woman, Lakisha Briggs, who was nearly stabbed to death by her ex-husband after opting out of calling the police out of fear of losing her home. Police intervened because her neighbors reported a disturbance. After Norristown demanded that she be removed from her home, she hired a lawyer and successfully forced Norristown repeal the law. Pennsylvania subsequently banned using “nuisance laws” against people who call the police. Similar laws, however, remain on the books around the United States.
It is rare that these local laws catch the attention of mainstream or corporate media. While occasional stories report on individual evictions, Eleanor Bader’s story in Truthout frames this as a national problem.
Eleanor J. Bader, “‘Nuisance’ Evictions Target Domestic Violence Survivors,” Truthout, September 6, 2015, http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/32646-nuisance-evictions-target-domestic-violence-survivors.
Lakisa Briggs, “I was a domestic violence victim. My town wanted me evicted for calling 911,” Guardian, September 11, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/11/domestic-violence-victim-town-wanted-me-evicted-calling-911.
Annamyra Scaccia, “How Domestic Violence Survivors Get Evicted From Their Homes After Calling the Police.” RH Reality Check, June 4, 2013, http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/06/04/norristown-ordinance-and-impact-on-domestic-violence-victims-2/.
“Domestic Violence & Harassment,” Tenants Union of Washington State, no date, http://www.tenantsunion.org/en/rights/section/domestic-violence-harassment.
Natalie Tarangioli, “Woman sues Surprise after domestic-violence calls lead to threats of eviction,” Arizona Republic, August 28 2015, http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/surprise/2015/08/28/evicted-woman-sues-surprise-apartment-law-domestic-violence-police-calls/71292918.
Student Evaluators: Najee Walker and Kyla Hunter (SUNY Buffalo State)
Faculty Evaluator: Michael I. Niman (SUNY Buffalo State)