How a person pays their rent shouldn’t limit where they get to live. Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed into law on March 15, 2018, a bill that ends discrimination based on whether someone receives Section 8 rental assistance. Over the last several years I’ve gone to Olympia, along with Jim Adrian, a landlord who participates in BHA’s Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance program, and provided testimony to legislators regarding passage of this bill.
Housing Authorities provide rental assistance to single individuals, families with children, the elderly, persons with disabilities, veterans, those who work and struggle to make ends meet, and people trying to build for the future while at the same time provide a safe and stable place to call home. Unfortunately, throughout Washington, these same people face discrimination in where they can live simply because of the means by which they pay their rent.
It’s conceivable that a person without rental assistance can faithfully pay a full rent each month to their landlord, often in excess of 50% of their monthly income, for months and years, and then be told they have to move by the same landlord when their name finally reaches the top of the Section 8 wait list and they receive a voucher. In the past, an owner’s decision to not accept a Section 8 rental voucher forces a family to move through no fault of their own, even though the owner would still get their full contract rent and the family’s portion would very likely go down.
Prior to 2018, a number of communities in Washington, as well as cities throughout the U.S., passed legislation that ended discrimination against Section 8 participants. Oregon passed similar protections which went into effect in 2014. It has opened thousands of doors to renters in Oregon who had previously struggled to find landlords who would rent to them. By all accounts, landlords in Oregon and other areas with these protections have suffered no adverse effects of tenant protection based on source of income.
Bremerton Housing Authority prides itself on positive relationships with local rental property owners. Our processes do not create any undue financial or time burdens on landlords. Individuals and families, trying to create a safe and stable place to live and thrive, should not be limited in where they can live by how they pay their rent.
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