April 26, 2023

Wyden, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Protect Veterans and Low-Income Families from Housing Discrimination

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden said today he is reintroducing legislation that would protect veterans and low-income families from housing discrimination on the basis of their income source.

“No one should be denied housing based on how they pay rent,” said Wyden, who last month also re-introduced legislation that aims to end homelessness in America and build up our nation’s housing supply. “Our nation’s veterans and families without means should have access to safe, affordable housing, without strings attached—whether their rent is paid by check or voucher.”

Currently, 2.3 million veterans and low-income households use Housing Choice Vouchers to pay rent, but there are no federal protections to prevent individuals from being denied housing based on source of income. In 2021, fair housing complaints nationally increased to more than 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 affected and more likely than any other group to be evicted or denied housing. As well, 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.

The Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2022 would expand protections for low-income renters 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 (Section 8), 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.

This Senate bill was led by Senator Tim Kaine, D-Va. Along with Wyden, it is cosponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Peter Welch, D-Vt., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Tina Smith, D-Minn., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

The bill is supported by A Way Home America; American Association of Service Coordinators; Catholic Charities USA; Center for Community Progress; Center for Disability Rights; Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP); Children’s Defense Fund; Children’s HealthWatch; Church World Service; Coalition on Human Needs; Community Change Action; Community Solutions International; Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces; Council of Large Public Housing Authorities; Council of State Community Development Agencies; CSH; Disability Rights Advocates; Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund; Economic Policy Institute; Enterprise Community Partners; Funders Together to End Homelessness; Grounded Solutions Network; Healthcare Anchor Network; Hispanic Federation; Housing Assistance Council; Housing Justice Center; Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia; Justice in Aging; Leaders and Organizers for Tenant Empowerment (LOFTE) Network; LeadingAge; Local Initiatives Support Corporation; Low Income Investment Fund; Mobility Works; National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd; National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA); National Alliance to End Homelessness; National Association for County Community and Economic Development; National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders; National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies; National Association of Social Workers; National CAPACD; National Center for Housing & Child Welfare; National Coalition for the Homeless; National Community Action Partnership; National Community Development Association; National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income consumers); National Disability Institute; National Disability Rights Network (NDRN); National Domestic Violence Hotline; National Fair Housing Alliance; National Health Care for the Homeless Council; National HIV/AIDs Housing Coalition; National Homelessness Law Center; National Housing Law Project; National Housing Resource Center; National Housing Trust; National Low Income Housing Coalition; National NeighborWorks Association; National Network to End Domestic Violence; National Resource Center on Domestic Violence; National WIC Association; National Women's Law Center; Natural Resources Defense Council; NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice; Opportunity Starts at Home campaign; Paralyzed Veterans of America; Poverty & Race Research Action Council; Prosperity Now; Public Advocacy for Kids; Shriver Center on Poverty Law; Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future; StriveTogether; Technical Assistance Collaborative; The Kelsey; Union for Reform Judaism; Up for Growth Action; Virginia Housing Alliance; Virginia Poverty Law Center; and ZERO TO THREE.

Full text of the bill is here.