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As part of National Fair Housing Month, U.S. Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), Scott Peters (D-San Diego) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) reintroduced the Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2023 to protect veterans and low-income families from housing discrimination. 2.3 million veterans and low-income households use (Section 8) Housing Choice Vouchers to pay rent, but there are no federal protections to prevent individuals from being denied housing based on source of income. Many veterans and low-income families have reported discrimination from landlords when using vouchers to pay their rent in states and cities where there are no source of income protections. When this legislation was first introduced by Kaine in 2018, landlords in Virginia and California could deny housing based on how individuals pay rent. Virginia and California have since enacted legislation to prohibit discrimination based on source of income, and Kaine, Peters, and Schiff want to expand that progress nationwide.
The legislation would expand protections by adding source of income and veteran status to the list of protected classes under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, giving more individuals and families access to affordable housing. It would prohibit landlords from denying housing to individuals who use Housing Choice Vouchers, HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing vouchers, benefits received through Social Security, income received by a court order, payment from a trust or guardian or any other lawful source of income.
“We must put an end to discriminatory housing practices that target individuals who use vouchers to pay their rent — often low-income families, people of color, and veterans,” Schiff said. “I am proud to be introducing this bill with Sen. Tim Kaine and Rep. Scott Peters to ensure that veterans and vulnerable communities are protected from income-based discrimination when they apply for housing.”
“Access to safe, affordable housing provides individuals with stability and opportunity, but too often, individuals have been denied housing because of how they pay rent,” Kaine said. “I’m proud to reintroduce this bill to protect veterans and low-income families from discrimination and expand access to housing for all Americans.”
“In San Diego and across the country there are too many stories of unnecessary loss and debilitating anxiety when looking for housing,” Peters said. “No American should be denied housing based on the source of their income or their status as a veteran, especially as we face a historic housing crisis and unacceptable levels of veteran homelessness. Our bill would make this type of deplorable discrimination illegal.”
In 2021, fair housing complaints increased to over 31,000, and there were more complaints of discrimination based on source of income compared to 2020. People of color, particularly Black women, are disproportionately impacted and more likely than any other group to be evicted or denied housing.
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