Finding decent, affordable housing for yourself and your family can be tough, especially if you’re working-class or low-income and living in any one of the rapidly gentrifying big cities in the nation.
In Los Angeles, where median rent for an apartment is $2,428, lawmakers have moved to make it illegal for landlords to discriminate against poor families who use federal Section 8 vouchers to help pay their rent.
In a unanimous vote, the Los Angeles City Council directed the city’s attorney to write an ordinance prohibiting “source-of-income discrimination” against people who pay with the vouchers, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Supporters of the effort say Section 8 bans are often an insidious way for landlords to discriminate the poor and people of color, larger percentages of whom often use the vouchers. As the Times explains:
Housing advocates say the law is needed because Section 8 bans are often used as a proxy to discriminate by race or class, and research has shown landlord acceptance rates are higher in places with the ordinances.
“We have a significant barrier to affordable housing in this city and that is the denial of people who have Section 8 vouchers,” Councilman Paul Krekorian, who proposed the legislation, told the council before the vote.
A study by the Urban Institute found the landlords wouldn’t rent to people with vouchers 76.4 percent of the time in L.A., according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
However, Krekorian’s proposal has its detractors.
A trade group representing mom-and-pop landlords opposes the plan, saying its members don’t like accepting Section 8 vouchers because of bureaucratic rules that can lead to delays in rental payments. City housing officials and Krekorian said they were committed to reducing any delays and streamlining the process.
The legislation, if approved, could go into effect as soon as Jan. 1 of next year, making L.A. one of 11 states and nine cities to outlaw Section 8 bans in housing, the Times reports.