SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A bill to make it illegal for landlords to discriminate against people with Section 8 housing vouchers was introduced in the California state Senate on Tuesday.
According to Senate Bill 10-53, by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, landlords could no longer reject potential tenants solely on their source of income or advertise that they don’t take Section 8.
Richard Marcantonio, managing attorney with the law firm and advocacy group Public Advocates, said it often takes years for a family to get a federal housing voucher – and then it’s very difficult to find a place in a clean, safe neighborhood that will accept it.
“If they can use those vouchers at all, they can only use them in the same neighborhood where they already live,” he said. “And so there’s a real barrier to people having access to high-opportunity neighborhoods.”
Landlords still would still have the right to reject potential tenants based on credit and criminal history. They don’t have to accept Section 8, but if this bill passes, they could be named in a discrimination complaint if they use it as the sole reason to reject a tenant.
Shamus Roller, executive director of the fair housing advocacy group Housing California, said research shows that children who move to better neighborhoods have a much better shot at success in life.
“In the end, this is really about opportunity for people that really want to move their families into neighborhoods where there are better school systems, make their family have a better life,” he said. “That is what this country is all about.”
About 300,000 Californians receive Section 8 rental assistance. They contribute 30 percent of their income to the rent on a fair market value unit, and the federal government picks up the rest.