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Resource Center

Source of Income Discrimination

In searching for a dwelling, many households face discrimination by landlords who are unwilling to rent to voucher holders. As a result, several states and municipalities have adopted laws prohibiting housing discrimination based on source of income. Owners of Low Income Housing Tax Credit housing and certain types of federally assisted housing are also prohibited from discriminating against voucher holders. These protections are invaluable in maximizing a voucher family’s ability to secure safe and decent housing. Below are materials describing efforts to enforce source of income laws on behalf of voucher holders and references to the federal laws preventing discrimination against voucher holders.


NHLP, Courts Consider Landlord Defenses to Source of Income Laws

This November/December 2008 NHLP Housing Law Bulletin article by Katherine Lehe, NHLP summer intern, reviews recent cases addressing state and local source of income laws.

NHLP, States Uphold Source of Income Discrimination Laws Protecting Voucher Holders

This January 2008 NHLP Housing Law Bulletin article reviews recent cases addressing state and local source of income laws.


Sabi v. Donald T. Sterling, Corp.

Voucher tenant filed suit alleging that defendants violated California laws prohibiting discrimination based upon source of income.


Statutes and Regulations

Multifamily projects purchased from HUD:

12 U.S.C.A. § 1701z-12 and 24 C.F.R. §§ 290.19 and 290.39 prohibit the unreasonable refusal "to lease a vacant dwelling unit in" a multifamily housing project purchased from HUD "to a holder of a [Section 8] certificate . . . solely because of such prospective tenant’s status as a certificate holder".

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat.115, 215 (February 17, 2009)

Department of Housing and Community Development, Community Planning and Development, Community Development Fund, requires that owners of units purchased with NSP funds not discriminate against voucher holders.

PIH Notice 2001-2 (HA) (January 18, 2001)

Prohibition of Discrimination Against Families with Housing Choice Vouchers by Owners of Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and HOME Developments

Low-Income Housing Tax Credit: Internal Rev. Code, 26 U.S.C.A. § 42(h)(6)(B)(iv) and 26 C.F.R. § 1.42-5(c)(1)(xi)

Require owners of low-income housing tax credit projects to certify, at least annually, that they have in place an "extended low-income housing commitment" that prohibits, inter alia, "the refusal to lease to a holder of a [Section 8] voucher or certificate . . . because of the status of the prospective tenant as such a holder.").

HOME Program: 42 U.S.C. § 12745(a)(1)(D)

HOME Program: 42 U.S.C. § 12745(a)(1)(D) specifies that rental units subsidized in whole or part with HOME funds may not be "refused for leasing to a holder of a voucher or certificate of eligibility under section 1437f of this title because of the status of the prospective tenant as a holder of such voucher or certificate of eligibility." By regulation, the Department has extended this protection from discrimination to holders of HOME-funded tenant-based rental assistance certificates. 24 C.F.R. § 92.252(d).

Mark-to-Market projects:

Multifamily Assisted Housing Reform and Affordability Act of 1997 (MAHRAA), Pub. L. No. 105-65, Title V, § 514(e)(9), 111 Stat. 1343, 1394 (Oct. 27, 1997), § 1437f note, and 24 C.F.R. §401.556 require that Mark-to-Market Restructuring Plans "must prohibit any refusal of the owner to lease a unit solely because of the status of the prospective tenant as a section 8 certificate or voucher holder." This obligation is relevant to those developments that have units without project-based subsidy.

Rental rehab and HODAG:

42 U.S.C.A. § 1437o note, §§ 1437o(c)(2)(G)(i) & (d)(4)(D)(i)) and 24 C.F.R § 511.11(d)(iii) & § 850.151(c) require that owners of rental rehabilitation projects and HODAG buildings "shall not discriminate against prospective tenants on the basis of their receipt of, or eligibility for, housing assistance under any Federal, State or local housing assistance program . . . ."

Right of tenants in HUD-subsidized and HUD-assisted projects to receive tenant-based rental subsidies:

12 U.S.C.A. § 1715z-1b(b)(2) requires the Secretary of HUD to "assure that . . . project owners not interfere with the efforts of tenants to obtain rent subsidies or other public assistance."


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