CFED Scorecard

CFED Assets & Opportunity Scorecard

Housing & Homeownership
Protection from Discrimination for Low-Income Renters
Overview

Rental assistance, such as the federally-funded and locally-administered Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, allows low-income families to live in decent and safe homes. Unfortunately, many housing voucher recipients are refused the opportunity to rent because they will be using a housing voucher. Although the federal Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability and familial status, it does not protect people based on the “source of income” they will use to pay rent. This loophole leaves many voucher-holders vulnerable to discriminatory practices. Even in states where source of income discrimination is illegal, courts have not always upheld the statute, citing that because participation in the voucher program is voluntary voucher-holders are not protected by the law.

What States Can Do

States can extend the protections of the Fair Housing Act to include other characteristics, such as marital status, sexual orientation and source of income used to pay rent. To protect voucher-holders, states should include Section 8 vouchers as a protected source of income in state statutes. States should also ensure that courts uphold the statute if tenants face legal proceedings against them.

Strength of State Policies: Protection from Discrimination for Low-Income Renters

Does state protect Section 8 voucher-holders
from discrimination in the housing market? 1
StateSection 8 protections?
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California 2
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Florida 2
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland 2
Massachusetts
Michigan 2
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri 2
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York 2
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania 2
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee 2
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington 2
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

Notes on the Data

1. "Appendix B: State, Local and Federal Laws Barring Source-of-Income Discrimination," Poverty & Race Research Action Council, March 2015. Accessed June 22, 2015. States receive credit if they have a law explicitly barring housing discrimination on the basis of source of income. States also must actively enforce such a law, and its application must extend to Section 8 housing vouchers.

2. Although California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Washington do not include Section 8 as a protected source of income in their state laws, several cities and counties in these states have local ordinances that provide that protection: Los Angeles, San Francisco, East Palo Alto, Corte Madera, Woodland, Miami-Dade County, Chicago, Frederick, Howard County, Montgomery County, Grand Rapids, Saint Louis, Buffalo, Nassau County, New York City, State College, Philadelphia, Memphis, Bellevue, King County, Redmond, and Seattle.

How States Are Assessed

States receive credit if they have a law explicitly barring housing discrimination on the basis of source of income. States also must actively enforce such a law, and its application must extend to Section 8 housing vouchers.

What States Have Done

Nine states and the District of Columbia have and uphold laws that protect Section 8 recipients against discrimination by landlords.

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