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News Hits is pleased as punch (inappropriate pun intended) that the Ypsilanti Housing Commission has agreed to stop evicting victims of domestic violence.

The policy change is a result of a lawsuit filed by Aaronica Warren (“Insult to Injury,” Metro Times, April 24-30, 2002).

Warren was evicted from her Ypsilanti Housing Commission-owned townhouse in 2000 after an estranged boyfriend broke in and assaulted her.

Warren is one of several domestic abuse victims nationwide who faced eviction because of a broad interpretation of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act. Commonly referred to as the “One Strike, You’re Out” policy, the provision (passed by Congress in 1988 but unenforced until 1996) allows public-housing authorities to deny occupancy to applicants with criminal records and to evict tenants who have had illegal activity at their residence, even if they are the victim.

Though the policy was adopted primarily to deal with drug-related crimes, some housing authorities applied the law to victims of domestic violence, holding them responsible for their abusers’ illegal behavior. Some privately owned housing complexes that receive federal subsidies also adopted the One Strike rule and applied it to domestic-violence victims.

Warren, who fought the eviction and won, then sued the Ypsilanti Housing Commission in 2002. Her lawsuit alleged that the commission’s application of the One Strike policy discriminated against women since they make up the majority of domestic-violence victims. To settle the lawsuit, the housing commission agreed to stop putting abuse victims on the street.

“Ending this policy will prevent women from being twice victimized,” says Kary Moss, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which represented Warren.

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