Solid Ground’s Tenant Services team has successfully advocated to protect tenants from being discriminated against for using rental assistance to pay for rent in Seattle, and we’ve supported other municipalities in gaining protections from discrimination based on using Section 8 subsidies. This legislative session, we are working in Olympia to expand these protections statewide.
On January 31, 2017, I was in Olympia testifying before the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions & Insurance on behalf of this important consumer protection. Here’s what I told them:
My name is Patricia Abbate. I am a Tenant Counselor, here today on behalf of Solid Ground. We support and urge you to pass Senate Bill 5407 out of committee, as it would benefit low-income renters and families across Washington state.
Solid Ground works with thousands of renters each year who struggle to financially maintain stable housing and avoid homelessness. Our programs work with clients who receive income from employment, as well as other sources such as Social Security, Disability, and TANF. Some tenants receive housing assistance from social services agencies or Section 8 vouchers. Currently, there is no law in Washington state that prohibits landlords from discriminating against possible tenants based on their source of income. At Solid Ground, our housing workers encounter this type of discrimination with their clients more often than not.
One Housing Advocate reports that most landlords dissuade tenants receiving Section 8 or other types of rental assistance from even applying.
Another Case Manager working with a single mother of a severely disabled child faced a landlord who refused to accept our rental assistance and the family is now homeless. Just last week, a tenant accessed our Tenant Hotline for information on the eviction process after his landlord rejected rental assistance from the VA.
Despite the fact that these sources of income are legal, as you can see here, people with disabilities, single parents, and seniors are faced with the added burden of being disproportionately denied housing due to the source of their income.
As wealth quickly grows in some areas of our state, a result of increasing housing costs translates into increased homelessness, people moving away from their communities, longer commutes, and subsequent financial hardship as more and more income is required to afford rent.
Prohibiting discrimination based on the source of a tenant’s income is an essential measure that can immediately ensure that more people have access to acquiring and maintaining stable housing during these difficult times. Tenants who are able to meet the cost of rent through legitimate payment methods should not face eviction and homelessness simply because of discrimination.
The bill was also introduced to the House (HB 1633), where it was referred to the Judiciary Committee. Washington Low Income Housing Alliance (WLIHA) is leading the effort to rally citizens in support of these bills. Tell your lawmakers to vote YES on House Bill 1633 and Senate Bill 5407!
No one should be denied a home just because they use a housing voucher, social security, child support, or another form of legal income support to help pay the rent.
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