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Source of Income

Man moving into new homeRead the ERC'S latest report, Still in Search of Decent Housing

Discrimination based one’s “source of income” – which can include, but is not limited to, housing choice vouchers, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), unemployment insurance, or veteran’s benefits – is against the law in many states and localities across the country.  The ERC has advocated strongly for the enforcement of existing laws and the enactment of new legislation for this protected class since 2005.    

The Housing Choice Voucher Program is the nation’s largest housing subsidy program, assisting more that two million families across the nation to secure clean and safe housing.  Yet voucher holders face blatant discrimination when searching for housing.  In recent years the ERC has placed a high priority on advancing civil rights for housing choice voucher holders.  In many instances, a housing voucher is the only thing that stands between a family and homelessness.  As well, discrimination against housing voucher holder, far too often, is merely a guise for discrimination based on race, national origin, or familial status.  

To date, the ERC’s “source of income” initiative has made more than 15,000 apartments units available to housing choice voucher holders.

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ERC Releases 2013 Source Of Income Report

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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.

ERC Fights Discriminatory Housing Advertising in the District of Columbia

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.

Equal Rights Center Reaches Agreement with National Leasing Services Provider, Level One Holdings, Inc., to Promote Equal Housing Opportunity for Voucher Holders

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.

Still in Search of Decent Housing Report coverReport Finds D.C. Landlords Illegally Discriminating Against 45% of Individuals Using Housing Choice Vouchers

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.  

Download a PDF of report>>

Download accessible word version of report>>

A Step Away From HomelessnessA Step Away From Homelessness: Housing Choice Voucher Holders Denied Housing in Montgomery County, MD, 2008

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.

In Search of Decent Housing in the DC Metropolitan Area: The Affordable Housing Crisis for Section 8 Housing Vouchers, 2005

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.

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For Civil Minds- the ERC's blog

Read the ERC's blog to learn more about a variety of civil rights issues. The blog is updated frequently so remember to keep checking back for new stories and topics!

Download our Fair Housing Brochure

Learn more about your rights and what the ERC can do to help.

Read an accessible version of the Fair Housing Brochure >>

Housing Choice Vouchers Fact Sheet

Learn what housing vouchers are, how they are used, and if you are eligible for one here.

Find a Public Housing Agency Near You

If you need public housing assistance or would like specific information about public housing programs such as housing choice vouchers, please contact your local Public Housing Agency.

Referral Guide

Learn more about service providers and organizations which offer you support.

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