May 7, 2015
Santa Monica city council approved an ordinance that prohibits housing discrimination based on source of income, including Section 8 vouchers.
“Section 8 is one of the key ways housing is provided to low income tenants living on fixed incomes,” said Denise McGranahan, senior attorney at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. “Without Section 8, these tenants might otherwise live on the streets, in shelters, or double up with relatives. We see the refusal to accept Section 8 as a form of tenant harassment. Private landlords often refuse to accept Section 8, even from their existing rent control tenants even though they could get more rent from section 8 than under rent control. They say no, assuming that long-term rent control tenants will vacate rather than lose their vouchers allowing owners to increase the rent to market.”
These types of city ordinances often fill the gap because state and federal laws do not prohibit discrimination against section 8 vouchers, which are not viewed as a source of income in California law. Many section 8 voucher recipients had reported discrimination due to their participation in the program.
“Housing choices are limited due to two factors: Discrimination and the fact that vouchers do not allow tenants to pay market rent. If the city obtains increased payment standards, this proposed law would help more people. Many are forced to port to other cities, which is detrimental to the city’s Section 8 program. Studies suggest that landlords discriminate against Section 8 voucher holders as a pretext for discriminating against minorities, disabled, and families with children.”
Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA)