In April, the ERC relased it's latest source of income discrimination report, "Will You Take My Voucher? An Update on Source of Income Discrimination in the District of Columbia." For nearly a decade, the ERC has monitored landlords and rental management agents in the nation’s capital to determine their compliance with source of income protections, and has worked to end discrimination against voucher holders.
This report update, based on source of income testing conducted by the ERC between July 2011 and January 2013, confirms that the ERC’s education and outreach efforts continue to bear fruit, but that discrimination against voucher holders persists. In the most recent testing, voucher holders were subject to discrimination 28% of the time. While much improved, continued education and advocacy is needed to address the more than 1 out of 4 voucher holders who still experience some form of discrimination.
Click here to download a PDF of the report.
The ERC recently filed a lawsuit in the D.C. Superior Court against Theophilus LLC , a D.C. landlord, alleging that it has violated the D.C. Human Rights Act and the federal Fair Housing Act by discriminating against Housing Choice Voucher Holders and people with disabilities in its rental advertising. According to the ERC’s Complaint, Theophilus advertised a rental property on the web-based listing service Craigslist.com, and stated: “Sorry not accepting vouchers” and “Professional working need only apply.” By refusing to rent to individuals who intend to use Housing Choice Vouchers, as well as to individuals who do not have income as “working” or “Professionals,” Theophilus is, the ERC’s complaint alleges, unlawfully discriminating against renters in the District of Columbia based on their source of income. Further, by refusing to rent to individuals who cannot work, the complaint alleges that Theophilus is unlawfully discriminating against persons who are unable to work because of their disabilities.
The ERC announced an agreement with Level One, Inc., a national apartment leasing call center resolving concerns that Housing Choice Voucher holders were provided with inaccurate information about the availability apartments at local rental properties owned and managed by Level One’s clients. As a result of the agreement, Level One will ensure that all of its agents answering rental calls for properties located in the District of Columbia, and in Howard and Montgomery Counties in Maryland, will advise potential renters that vouchers are accepted for the payment of rent. Level One has also agreed to strengthen its existing fair housing policies, including providing additional fair housing training to employees, and to make a payment to the ERC for its costs and attorneys’ fees in reaching this agreement.
The ERC released a report based on an expansive investigation, highlighting a 45% rate of discrimination against individuals attempting to use Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) in the District of Columbia. The report, Still in Search of Decent Housing, was issued as a follow up to a 2005 ERC report that documented a staggering 61% rate of discrimination against voucher holders in the District.
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Montgomery County, the most populous jurisdiction in Maryland, has also quickly become one of the most unaffordable in terms of housing. And an ERC investigation uncovered a 15 percent discrimination rate against Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher holders in this county.
Despite “source of income” being a protected class in Washington D.C., the ERC received numerous complaints of discrimination. The ERC conducted an investigation and uncovered a 61 percent discrimination rate against into the extent Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher holders.