City Council Considers Banning Source Of Income Discrimination In Housing

Sep 15, 2020

A Charlotte City Council committee is expected to discuss Wednesday whether to recommend banning housing discrimination based solely on how renters pay. The rule, which would be the first of its kind in North Carolina, is aimed at making it easier for people to find housing. 

For the past year, a coalition of more than 30 groups has been lobbying the council to ban what's called "source of income discrimination" in housing. Ryan Carter of Habitat for Humanity in Charlotte said landlords increasingly are denying housing to people who are paying with federal housing vouchers or other rental assistance.  

"Anytime a landlord says your rent payment doesn't count, that's what we say is wrong," Carter said. "And we believe that if you can pay your rent with any legal and verifiable source of income, you should be able to pay rent and access housing."

Habitat Charlotte and the housing authority Inlivian are leading the effort. The groups are asking the city council to amend the fair housing ordinance to include protections against source of income discrimination. They're also asking for a "first come, first served" clause that Carter said would make it harder for property owners to sit on applications and wait for a renter who did not have subsidies.  

Some landlords oppose the amendments, saying it's not needed. 

But a May report from Inlivian found that 44% of federal voucher holders who were looking for housing in Charlotte between April and December 2019 were rejected by housing providers based on their use of subsidies. 

Last year, Inlivian conducted a telephone survey of housing providers near the Lynx Blue Line light rail. When asked if they accepted housing choice vouchers, 96.5% said no. The remaining 3.5% were properties that received low-income housing tax credits, which are required to accept vouchers, Inlivian said.  

Carter said the issue is expected to come up at the City Council's Great Neighborhoods Committee at noon Wednesday. If members support the amendments, the issue could go to another committee or on to the full council for approval, said Carter. 

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