In the News
By Sasha Foo
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The federal housing program known as the Housing Choice Voucher or Section 8 program provides families with a subsidy to pay their rent. In an effort to expand housing choices and keep landlords from discriminating, the San Diego City Council approved an ordinance that prohibits landlords from refusing to consider rental applications from a tenant applicant who receives a Section 8 voucher or some type of rental assistance.
Councilmember Georgette Gomez who introduced the proposal said it was important to protect families from facing “undue barriers in an already tight rental market.” A representative for the San Diego County Apartment Association expressed reservations about the proposed change in the municipal code. Molly Kirkland said the association’s members understand that San Diego has a housing shortage, but they are worried they may lose money because of the way some of the government regulations are administered.
However, the president of the San Diego Housing Commission, the local agency that oversees the federal program said landlords are paid promptly and on average, the Housing Commission takes about 18 days to approve a unit for the Section 8 program. The ordinance would not be enforced with penalties for at least a year. Gomez said in the initial stages, she wanted to form a special committee comprised of various stakeholders, including landlords to become educated about the Section 8 program.
In a letter of support from Congressman Scott Peters, Peters wrote that the San Diego region has lost more than 1,300 federally subsidized units between 1995 and 2016 as rental assistance contracts ended and were not renewed. “We can expect a similar number of units to sunset without renewal over the next five years,” Peters wrote. “It is my hope that passing this ordinance will serve as a major step in further protecting vulnerable San Diegans while also addressing our region’s housing needs.”