Reported Domestic Violence to Police? You Might Be Evicted

In Norristown, Pa., a law stipulates that after three police calls, a tenant can be evicted, writes Sandra Park, staff attorney for the ACLU's Women's Rights Project, for the Huffington Post.

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The ACLU's Women's Rights Project is fighting a law that allows landlords to evict victims of domestic violence if they've asked for police help in Norristown, Pa., writes Sandra Park on the Huffington Post.

The police threatened Ms. [Lakisha] Briggs with eviction because she had received their assistance for domestic violence. Under Norristown's "disorderly behavior ordinance," the city penalizes landlords and tenants when the police respond to three instances of "disorderly behavior" within a four-month period. The ordinance specifically includes "domestic disturbances" as disorderly behavior that triggers enforcement of the law.

After her first "strike," Ms. Briggs was terrified of calling the police. She did not want to do anything to risk losing her home. So even when her now ex-boyfriend attacked her with a brick, she did not call. And later, when he stabbed her in the neck, she was still too afraid to reach out. But both times, someone else did call the police. Based on these "strikes," the city pressured her landlord to evict. After a housing court refused to order an eviction, the city said it planned to condemn the property and forcibly remove Ms. Briggs from her home. The ACLU intervened, and the city did not carry out its threats, and even agreed to repeal the ordinance. But just two weeks later, Norristown quietly passed a virtually identical ordinance that imposes fines on landlords unless they evict tenants who obtain police assistance, including for domestic violence.

Read Sandra Park's entire piece at the Huffington Post.

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