HUD Clarifies Ruling Concerning Domestic Abuse Shelters
Thursday, October 28, 2004 1:45 PM

On October 15 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that domestic violence shelters will not have to submit identifying information about their clients for a new national database. Nevertheless, shelters will be required to submit some encrypted information, in order to receive federal funds.

HUD originally planned to exempt victims of domestic violence in setting up the new Homeless Management Information Systems mandated by Congress, but later concluded that these victims are such a significant portion of the homeless population that the new system could not achieve its goal if they were excluded.

HUD’s guidelines issued in July requiring shelters to submit sensitive personal information about their clients created an outburst of controversy and protests by service providers and advocates.

In response to the protests, HUD issued the clarification meant to illustrate HUD’s commitment to protecting the confidentiality of those served by HUD programs. "Our concern for the safety of victims of domestic violence was key," said HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special-Needs Assistance Patricia Carlile.

But advocates are not fully satisfied, arguing no level of encryption can prevent abusers from gaining access to the information system and the databases will continue to violate the core promise of confidentiality.

More information on the HUD regulation is available on the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) web site here.

Compiled from: Family Violence Prevention Fund News Flash, 28 October 2004.