DC Council passes bill protecting domestic violence survivors' home address in public records

The DC Council voted unanimously to pass Councilmember Allen's bill that would shield the home addresses of survivors of domestic violence, sexual offenses, stalking, and human trafficking, as well as employees of organizations who serve those survivors or work at reproductive health clinics.

"It is surprisingly simple to find someone's address in government records - particularly in the digital age. For survivors, participation in civic life – from sending a child to public school to registering to vote – can come with real risks. As a result, survivors often choose to withdraw from public life as a way to protect themselves," said Councilmember Charles Allen.

The Address Confidentiality Amendment Act of 2018 creates an Address Confidentiality Program at the Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants (OVSJG). Through this program, survivors of domestic violence, sexual offenses, stalking, or human trafficking can have their home addresses hidden in government databases including the Board of Elections, the Office of Tax and Revenue, and the DMV. The same protections are available to employees or volunteers working at domestic violence shelters and organizations working with survivors, as well as employees at reproductive health clinics. A report in 2016 found 34 percent of abortion providers in the United States were subject to severe violence or threats of violence.

In all cases, applicants would work with an application assistant to apply. They will need to meet one of eight requirements demonstrating need to hide their address -- including a sworn affidavit by the applicant. Once admitted to the program, the applicant may use the substitute address for three years, with an option to extend on the program for another two years.
In passing this legislation, the District of Columbia joins 36 other states in protecting the home addresses of these at-risk groups of people in order to preserve their voice in local government.


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