The Poverty & Race Research Action Council (PRRAC) has updated its compendium of state, local, and federal laws barring source of income discrimination.
Announcing the updated compendium, PRRAC noted that over the past two weeks, St. Louis enacted a new municipal ordinance barring Section 8 voucher discrimination, and a U.S. District Court decision in Texas upheld the Austin source of income discrimination law.
“Source of Income” discrimination is when a landlord refuses to rent to a household based on the type (the source) of income it will use to pay the rent. People might have good credit, steady employment, and great references but still be refused an apartment, simply because they have vouchers to help pay the rent.
Examples of sources of income landlords sometimes do not like include Housing Choice Vouchers (“Section 8”), SSI (Supplemental Security Income received by people with disabilities), Social Security, veterans benefits, alimony or child support payments from a missing spouse, and TANF (“welfare”).
Sometimes, source of income discrimination can be a little bit less direct. The landlord might not outright say “We don’t rent to those paying with a voucher.” Instead, the landlord might demand a higher security deposit, one which the household cannot afford so is discouraged from renting that apartment.
Source of income discrimination is sometimes a stand-in for discrimination based on race or ethnicity, disability, age, a single woman being the head of the household, or a family having children – all of which are “protected classes” under the Fair Housing Act. While discrimination against protected classes is illegal, source of income is not a protected class under federal law. However, a number of states and local jurisdictions do have source of income laws, which are compiled in this report.
PRRAC’s Source of Income compendium is at http://www.prrac.org/pdf/AppendixB.pdf