August 2, 2008

Section 8 Housing: Making it Mandatory

Cities and States Face Affordable Housing Look to Section 8

Seventeen cities: Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, St. Louis and Washington, D.C. have “source of income” anti-discrimination rules. Thirteen states also have such laws: California; Connecticut; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Minnesota; New Jersey; North Dakota; Oklahoma; Oregon; Utah; Vermont; and Wisconsin.

The national Multi Housing Council, a non profit that represents multi family owners has filed a brief with the Supreme court to clarify whether Section 8 housing is mandatory or not.

Source of Income Non-Discrimination Laws

Congress created section 8 created a voluntary because it has special requirements of owners. However, because of a housing crisis, many states and cities have passed new non discrimination laws to circumvent the original voluntary nature of section 8 programs. These states contend that the sources of income, namely federal vouchers, when used as a reason to reject a tenant are discriminatory.

What is Section 8

It is a Federal housing program which provides housing assistance to low-income renters and homeowners. This assistance comes in the form of rental subsidies or vouchers. These vouchers are good only for what the government calls fair market rent housing. If your unit is higher than fair market you would have to pay the difference yourself.

The Landords Extra Burden

1. There must be an annual inspection to insure that the unit is safe and sanitary.

2. There is a contract with the government in addition to the lease that the landlord or manager must comply with.

3. The rental must remain within the parameters of what HUD calls fair market rent. This can be good for owners, if the rental market is flat, but a limit if the rental market is having good times

Effectively, the states are trying to alter the voluntary nature of the program by passing “source of income” non-discrimination laws to solve their affordable housing crises. The MFHC brief contends the states are over riding federal law.

Thanks for Reading

Howard Bell

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