On Monday, the House of Delegates approved legislation on an 88-53 vote that would prohibit landlords from refusing to lease a home to applicants, with a Housing Choice Voucher. The Section 8 program is designed to provide very low-income families with financial assistance to pay their rent. Participants are permitted to select an apartment, townhouse or single-family home of their choice in a safe location.
In Baltimore County, residents blame the government for areas of high crime, because Section 8 voucher holders are heavily concentrated in western and eastern neighborhoods. Currently, landlords have the right to refuse to rent to those with Section 8 housing.
A similar bill passed the House, but after a healthy debate the Baltimore County Council rejected it.
Chairman of the committee, Delegate Kumar Barve said he wasn’t aware of any other situation where local jurisdictions were given an exemption from anti-discrimination laws.
Since there are high concentrations of Housing Choice Voucher users in various parts of Eastern Baltimore, landlords in these areas will be exempt from the law, according to the bill’s supporters.
The legislation would prohibit landlords from discriminating against those who need rent subsidies. It would also give these individuals an opportunity to live outside the low-income and high crime neighborhoods.