Money can be one of the biggest obstacles standing between a domestic violence victim and freedom from abuse.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, a significant proportion of women who return to an abusive relationship cite financial concerns as a major factor. Financial concerns can take many forms, from explicit financial abuse—forcing dependence by forbidding a partner to work, for example—to bullying a partner into believing they are incapable of handling finances on their own.
Sometimes, there simply isn’t enough money to leave the house and start over alone.
Today, Pennsylvania lawmakers moved a bill that, if passed, would at least alleviate some of the financial strain on people who rent their homes and need to leave an abusive relationship.
House Bill 1051, sponsored by Rep. Madeleine Dean, would amend Pennsylvania’s Landlord and Tenant Act to provide statutory protections for a tenant who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and needs to change the locks to their doors, or to prematurely terminate their lease for safety reasons. This legislation would give tenants who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking the ability to put an end to their lease obligations, without penalty, or have their locks changed—at the tenant’s expense—if they decide to stay in the home.
Today, the Urban Affairs Committee in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted this bill out of Committee. Next, for HB 1051 to have a chance to become law, the House needs to vote on the bill.
HB 1051 is an initiative of the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health, a bold, pro-choice legislative package of bills sponsored and supported by the Women’s Health Caucus of the Pennsylvania Legislature. The bill is supported by the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health, a collaboration of more than 50 local, state and national organizations calling for evidence-based policy solutions to real problems faced by real families in a state that unfortunately has become known for anti-science, ideologically driven attacks on families, sometimes in the name of “women’s health.”
In 2015, 146 Pennsylvanians lost their lives to domestic violence. The victims included 68 women and 45 men. The youngest victim killed was 18 and the oldest was 95.
Stay tuned for more updates as we continue to watch this important legislation.
The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.