Finding a home is a person’s most important expense. A home allows people to have a sense of stability to think about other aspects of life, like finding better jobs and making sure their children are successful in school. When people are unable to find safe, affordable housing, it places them at risk of becoming homeless, and then it becomes next to impossible to think about anything else. Nationally, approximately 14.4 million families have critical housing needs. An estimated 328,000 units would need to be built each year to address the growing need for affordable housing.
In Baltimore, nearly 1/2 of residents live below 200% of the federal poverty line. This means that finding affordable housing is increasingly difficult. Maryland overall, ranked 5th in the nation in a study measuring 2-Bedroom Housing Wage from highest to lowest. The study included the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. So how can we correct this growing problem and end homelessness? City Council Bill 18-038 is an integral step in fixing this growing epidemic. The bill prohibits landlords and other property owners from discriminating against persons seeking housing based on their “source of income.” It requires landlords to judge potential tenants based on past rental history; ability to comply with the lease; and stability and security of the renter’s income. The bill bans the widespread practice of refusing to rent to families enrolled in the Housing Choice Voucher.
Source of income discrimination affects vulnerable populations like senior citizens, people with disabilities, single mothers, veterans, and lower wage workers, many of whom use housing vouchers because their incomes are not high enough to pay the full rent. The Baltimore City Housing Authority (HABC) administers over 16,000 housing vouchers with thousands more on the waiting list. This bill ensures that people will have a fair chance at getting affordable housing and economic opportunities. Here at WHC, we think this bill is an important step in addressing the homelessness epidemic and helping our residents secure affordable housing, We are looking forward to the next steps in the process of ending homelessness forever.