A: Yes. Currently landlords in most places can discriminate against voucher holders, and many do. For example:
- An African-American female tester using a voucher was denied housing 91.2 percent of the time in Ohio’s Cuyahoga County in 2016.
- In Austin, Texas, 91 percent of landlords refuse to accept Section 8 tenants.
This makes it hard for voucher holders to use their vouchers at all, and often keeps them concentrated in a few segregated neighborhoods where vouchers are more readily accepted:
- One HUD study found 31 percent of vouchers had to be returned because no unit was found where they would be accepted.
- Voucher holders are more racially segregated than people with similar incomes who do not have vouchers.
Source-of-Income (SOI) Antidiscrimination Laws Do Help. Three different studies, including one of 48 housing authorities and 2,600 voucher households, found that, all else being equal, the probability of successfully using one’s voucher within the program time limit is 4 to 12 percentage points higher in jurisdictions with an SOI antidiscrimination law.
Also, Black, Asian, and Native American voucher recipients in areas with an SOI antidiscrimination law had 5 to 22 percent more white neighbors than they would otherwise.
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This question appears in the Summer 2018 edition of Shelterforce magazine. Subscribe here.