City Council to consider Housing Discrimination prevention amendment
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The San Diego City Council Tuesday will consider a code amendment prohibiting housing discrimination against applicants who use Section 8 vouchers or other rent subsidies. Elizabeth Alvarez was live at Civic Center Plaza with the details.
Section 8 vouchers aren’t protected by state law, which prohibits discrimination against tenants based on income source. Local landlords are allowed to refuse to rent to certain individuals as a business practice.
The proposed code amendment would block landlords from rejecting applicants based solely on voucher status, though they would still retain a right, based on other rental criteria, to choose residents who don’t use subsidies.
Studies have found that prohibiting income-based discrimination leads to increased neighborhood options for residents and decreased segregation.
Local California governments with such provisions include Berkeley, Corte Madera, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Marin County, San Francisco, Santa Clara County, Santa Monica and Woodland.
San Diego’s proposed ordinance would also establish a landlord contingency fund for property damage or lost rent related to renters with vouchers.
Implementation of the proposal would take two years. Year one would focus on voluntary compliance as well as landlord outreach and education of the potential benefits of renting to Section 8 users, including consistent on-time rent payments, long-term tenancies, flexible leases and background checks.
Year two would introduce investigation and enforcement services.
More than 15,000 low-income households receive Section 8 assistance through the San Diego Housing Commission. That breaks down to 36,478 individuals, 86 percent being people of color.
In June, the San Diego City Council’s Smart Growth and Land Use Committee advanced the ordinance to the council with no recommendation through a split 2-2 vote. Council members Georgette Gomez and David Alvarez supported the proposal, while council members Scott Sherman and Lorie Zapf did not.