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Los Angeles is taking steps to improve the County’s severe housing crisis.

The “Source of Income Protection” ordinance was approved by the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors at Tuesday’s meeting. The new chapter prohibits landowners from discriminating against potential renters based on their income or housing assistance needs of any kind, such as Section 8 vouchers, federally-funded rental assistance programs, and the Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool.

“More and more we see people entering our system that have a voucher but are unable to use it and report continuous efforts to find a housing unit,” said Los Angeles Homeless Service (LAHSA) legislative affairs analyst Samantha Vethavanam at the meeting.

Recipients of Section 8 vouchers are often discriminated against and denied housing opportunities by landlords. Seventy-six percent of Section 8 vouchers are denied by Los Angeles County landlord, according to a 2018 survey by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The current State of California law prohibits housing discrimination based on income alone, but doesn’t protect Section 8 voucher holders against discrimination. Hence, landlords aren’t required to consider Section 8 vouchers or other rental assistance programs a source of income. Once adopted, the new ordinance will amend Title 8-Consumer Protection, Business and Wage Regulation, and repeal Chapter 8.58, “Mobilehome Park Tenant Protections.”

In addition to discrimination, low-income tenants have limited housing options due to Los Angeles County’s vacancy rate of less than three percent. Rising rental costs have led to a lack of affordable housing options in the Los Angeles County, which is in need of more than 560,000 additional housing units to accommodate lower-income individuals, according to the California Housing Partnership Corporation.

Another roadblock for tenants is the lengthy Section 8 waiting list that is compiled of about 38,000 individuals.

The ordinance will protect renters in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. Exempt properties include nursing homes, convalescent homes, retirement homes, and any dwelling unit that requires the landlord or their immediate family to share either a kitchen or bathroom with tenants.

Individuals who violate the chapter will be “deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not exceeding six months, or both,” states the ordinance.

The Board approved the ordinance after adopting a motion by Supervisors Kuehl and Ridley-Thomas on Jan. 15 entitled “Creating Solutions to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing in Los Angeles County.”

“The ordinance will not force landlords to rent to a voucher-holder, but simply prevent ruling them out as a tenant based solely on their source of income,” Ridley-Thomas said.

However, some landowners at the meeting still feared the County gaining too much power.

During general public comments, housing provider Joseph Bartolo said the ordinance is “another layer of socialism.” In order to fix the housing crisis, Bartolo said, more houses need to be built rather than adding barriers for landlords who already have rent control.

editor@smdp.com

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2 Comments

  1. How about cleaning out the people that shouldn’t be on section 8 ? I’ve heard many stories of people using their grandma or moms section 8 vouchers for decades ! This isn’t how this program was supposed to be ! My 83 year old mom and 60
    Year old sister live together and without my help would have been homeless a long time ago ! My sister is in stage 5 kidney failure and they can’t get housing help even though their current landlord would except it for them ! Or I know of another landlord that would too ! How do I get help
    For them ? They keep hitting roadblocks trying to get help !its not right that people are abusing the system and are seemingly allowed to continue doing so ! Can someone please help my mother and sister !!!!

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