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Senate Bill 1053 Fights Against Section 8 Discrimination
During the week of February 17, 2016, Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill called SB 1053 that is supported by Tenant’s Together, and other nonprofit organizations. SB 1053 is a bill that forbids landlords from discriminating against renters with Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers (federal housing vouchers) solely based on their source of income.
Senate Bill 1053 Fights Against Section 8 Discrimination
By Lynda Carson - March 6, 2016
Oakland - According to the records of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in Oakland there are around 13,424 units in the Section 8 inventory. The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program assists low-income renters with their housing needs. The tenants pay 30% to 40% of the rent to the landlord, and the program pays the rest. The program payments are always made on time, and it is a wonderful program assisting the poor, elderly, disabled, women with children, veterans, and other low-income members of society.
However, many section 8 tenants know the terrifying experience of waiting in line for years to receive a section 8 voucher (Housing Choice Voucher) and ending up losing it because they ran out of time before they could find a landlord willing to accept section 8 vouchers at their properties. The tenants may often find that landlords discriminate against section 8 renters, and they often find advertising on Craig’s List that says “No Section 8.”
Often landlords discriminate against section 8 tenants because many low-income African-American families with children use section 8 vouchers to assist in their housing needs, and other landlords discriminate against section 8 tenants because they may be so greedy, that they believe they can get more money from renters that are not in the section 8 program. Whatever the case may be, it is legal in California for landlords to discriminate against section 8 renters.
During the week of February 17, 2016, Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill called SB 1053 http://tinyurl.com/hr7x5sp that is supported by Tenant’s Together, and other nonprofit organizations. SB 1053 is a bill that forbids landlords from discriminating against renters with Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers (federal housing vouchers) solely based on their source of income. In essence, if the bill becomes law in California, landlords would no longer be able to advertise that they don’t take section 8, or reject tenants seeking housing solely based on their source of income (section 8 vouchers). The bill would still allow landlords to reject potential renters based on their criminal history, or if they have bad credit. However, if the bill becomes law and a landlord discriminates against a potential renter just because they have a section 8 voucher, they could be named in a discrimination complaint.
SB 1053, a bill to end section 8 discrimination in California, is also supported by the Western Center on Law and Poverty, Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, National Housing Law project, and Public Advocates. People who support SB 1053 as a way to stop section 8 discrimination can contact Carrie Martin of Senator Leno’s office at 916/651-4011 or Carrie.martin [at] sen.ca.gov .
There are around 300,000 renters in California who receive Section 8 voucher rental assistance, and in Berkeley there are around 1,935 section 8 units. Richmond has around 1,851 section 8 units. San Francisco has around 9,238 section 8 units. Alameda has around 1,845 section 8 units, and Alameda County has around 6,312 section 8 units. Marin County has around 2,153 section 8 units, and Contra Costa County has around 6,887 section 8 housing units.
Despite the good intentions of Senator Mark Leno and the groups supporting SB 1053 to stop landlords from discriminating against section 8 tenants that includes many low-income African-American households, on March 3, 2016, the California Apartment Association (CAA) came out swinging against SB 1053, the bill to stop discrimination against section 8 tenants http://tinyurl.com/jrvygmp . The CAA and it’s 13,000 members have generally been fighting back against any and all reasonable renter protections being proposed in California, including SB 1053, a bill to stop section 8 discrimination. Through the years the CAA has been dolling out millions of dollars to the Democrats and Republicans in California, in the effort to block any reasonable tenant friendly legislation they do not like http://tinyurl.com/qe36jqj .
Unfortunately for the poor, there is not enough public housing or so-called affordable housing in Oakland and Alameda County to meet the needs of it’s low-income renters. During 2013, in Alameda County there were only 19,711 affordable available housing units for extremely low-income (ELI) renters http://tinyurl.com/hspkew5 , but there were around 74,913 ELI households seeking adequate affordable housing units.
According to the Urban Institute, they found that in 2013 only around 28% of ELI renters nationwide were able to find affordable housing units, being a significant drop from 37% in 2000, which is the result of increasing poverty and fewer affordable housing units http://tinyurl.com/jsgnth9 .
Additionally, in 2015, there was a shortage of 1.5 million affordable rental units in California, according to the California Housing Partnership Corporation http://tinyurl.com/hzfcara .
In another report on the housing crisis during 2015, a study from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies reveals that during 2014, the median rent for newly built apartments was $1,372 per month, which was 47% higher than the existing rental units across the nation http://tinyurl.com/nookvec .
During 2015, in Oakland, it was reported that around 609 residents received a section 8 housing choice voucher, but that only around 115 people had managed to to find housing in Oakland with their vouchers http://tinyurl.com/qevhlj5 .
In February 2016, it was also reported that HUD raised the fair market rents for one and two bedroom housing units in Alameda County to help section 8 renters finding it very difficult to find housing with their section 8 housing choice vouchers http://tinyurl.com/h7xbolt .
Adding to the housing crisis, due to state budget cuts, disabled persons receiving disability payments through SSI/SSP have lost ground regarding their housing costs http://tinyurl.com/hjgkwdo , as well as persons receiving assistance through the CalWorks Program http://tinyurl.com/h3aua52 . Section 8 vouchers help assist renters in both of these programs, and SB 1053 the bill to stop section 8 discrimination, would help the low-income renters in CalWorks and the disabled persons receiving SSI disability payments.
Rent hikes in California have outpaced the national average during every month of 2015, according to ApartmentList.com, http://tinyurl.com/zccoulx . Of the ten most expensive cities in California, San Francisco is at the top of the list followed by Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, Palo Alto, West Hollywood, Berkeley, Pacifica, San Mateo, San Rafael, and Foster City.
Another recent survey also reveals that the fair market rents in Oakland have almost doubled since 2011. Additionally, in the top ten cities throughout the nation with the greatest rent increases during recent years, Oakland tops the list according to Smartasset.com, http://tinyurl.com/z2m7roh , surpassing San Francisco, New York City, San Jose, Houston, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Denver, Colorado Springs, and Chicago.
The housing crisis in Oakland has become so severe, that the City is listed as #5 on the list of cities across the nation with the highest rents for one bedroom apartments. The median price for a one bedroom apartment in Oakland now is $2,200, according to the latest report from Zumper.com http://tinyurl.com/z3wfpuz for February.
During March 2016, it was also reported that HUD Secretary Julian Castro http://tinyurl.com/zrpjd52 went before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and related agencies http://tinyurl.com/zk7mohy , to defend his departments proposed increase for the 2017 HUD budget.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities also explains how section 8 vouchers can help address California’s housing needs http://tinyurl.com/h2456lm .
People who support SB 1053 as a way to stop section 8 discrimination can contact Carrie Martin of Senator Leno’s office at 916/651-4011 or Carrie.martin [at] sen.ca.gov .
Lynda Carson may be reached at tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com