Last week, Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) introduced H.R. 3516, the Fair Housing Improvement Act, to protect veterans and low-income families from unfair housing practices. Under current law, landlords can discriminate against people who use vouchers to pay rent, which includes veterans and low-income families. The Fair Housing Improvement Act expands protections in the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to prohibit discrimination based on source of income or veteran status. Many cities and states, including the City of San Diego, have implemented similar protections.
“Veterans and low-income families already struggle to find and maintain housing in San Diego. After years of waiting for federal housing assistance, they shouldn’t also struggle to find housing that will accept a voucher. It’s wrong that heroes who served our nation face discrimination in this process and that families are denied a home based on their socio-economic status. The federal government should follow San Diego’s lead and ensure every American can access housing, whether they rely on federal benefits or not,” said Rep. Peters.
“Far too many of our neighbors are experiencing homelessness or struggling to find an affordable place to live,” said Rep. Schiff. “By adding income source and veteran status as protected classes under the landmark Fair Housing Act of 1968, the Fair Housing Improvement Act will ensure that no one can be denied housing because they receive federal housing assistance or have served in our armed forces. Across the country, cities like Los Angeles are already working to expand housing protections to voucher recipients – it is past time for the federal government to follow their lead.”
“The Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2019 is a huge leap to finally providing protection of veterans in the housing market. Veterans are not a protected class, in most states and are not protected under any federal provisions. The Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2019 will change that forever. The Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals (VAREP) thanks Rep. Peters and his colleagues in both the House and Senate for providing a path to ending this discrimination,” said G-II Varrato, VAREP National Legislative Committee Chairman and retired United States Air Force veteran.
“I applaud Rep. Peters for introducing this important legislation to help combat housing discrimination, segregation, and inequality,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “Where you live has an enormous impact on the opportunities you and your children have in life – everything from educational attainment, to lifetime earnings, to better health, to life expectancy. For too long, discrimination has prevented low-income people from living in neighborhoods of their choice – including communities with jobs that pay decent wages, good schools, healthcare, and transportation – simply because they rely on federal housing benefits to make ends meet. This legislation is an important step towards righting this wrong.”
Reps. Adam Schiff (CA-28), Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), Jose Serrano (NY-15), and Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) joined Rep. Peters to introduce the bill in the House. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced an identical bill in the Senate. It has been endorsed by the Paralyzed Veterans of America, American Bar Association, Housing Opportunities Made Equal Virginia, Inc., National Housing Law Project , National Low Income Housing Coalition, Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals, Virginia Poverty Law Center, Habitat for Humanity, Enterprise Community Partners, Virginia Housing Alliance, Equal Rights Center, and LeadingAge.