Bill Seeks to Dodge Section 8 Renters
State Sen. Perry's bill would overrule Austin's ordinance
By Mary Tuma,
8:00AM, Mon. Dec. 29, 2014
As promised by the Texas Apartment Association earlier this month, a state legislator has filed a bill for the upcoming legislative session to block cities from enacting source of income discrimination ordinances, measures meant to grant low-income renters increased housing options.
With support from tenants and affordable housing advocates, Austin City Council passed such a measure on Dec. 11.
Senate Bill 267, authored by Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, would allow landlords to continue to refuse accepting renters who receive some government subsidies such as U.S. Housing and Urban Development Housing Choice Voucher program funds (commonly referred to as Section 8). Echoing criticisms voiced by the Texas and Austin Apartment Associations, Perry, a land developer, called the rule tantamount to “one-sided lease contracts with numerous strings attached.” The AAA recently filed suit to block the enforcement of the Austin ordinance, set to go into effect Jan. 12, claiming similar problems.
“Accepting federal housing vouchers was never intended to be mandatory,” said Perry in a statement. “Businesses should not be forced to partner with a governmental agency that significantly impacts its flexibility and day-to-day operations.”
Proponents of the protection – including the city of Austin– dispel the notion that the ordinance translates into a direct contract with the feds, as the Chronicle previously reported. With less than 10% of Austin landlords accepting Section 8 vouchers, the rule is an important step to help make the federal program effective, they argue.
“There is a push in Texas to implement these Obama-style policies in many of our cities,” Perry continued. However, it’s worth noting several cities and states passed SOI laws/ordinances well before Obama took presidential office. For instance, the San Francisco ordinance was passed in 1998; Chicago in 1990; New York City in 2008; and Seattle in 1989, according to the Poverty and Race Research Council.