Search Results for ‘"section 8" discrimin’

Section 8 Landlording Should Be Voluntary

It’s the strings: landlords should have a right to decide for themselves whether to shoulder the Section 8 program’s only-too-real regulatory burdens, I argue in my new Cato piece, reacting to a Baltimore Sun opinion piece. Baltimore County is the scene of a long-running controversy over whether to force landlords to participate in the federal housing voucher program. Earlier here.

Sidelight: A new San Diego ordinance that took effect August 1 “orders violators to pay three times the advertised monthly rent to eligible plaintiffs who saw the ad, plus punitive damages, as well as a plaintiff’s attorney fees and costs if a judge so orders. Even after the offending ad is taken down or changed, exposure to liability from anyone who saw the illegal ad lasts for a year.” Soon thereafter enterprising attorney Christian Curry filed more than 50 lawsuits under the ordinance and has obtained many settlements, although critics suspect his clients weren’t always intent on living in properties with challenged ads; they also say some ads were targeted that were written before the law changed and not intentionally left online afterward. A spokeswoman for a property group “likened the new Section 8 cases to ‘drive-by’ lawsuits over violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.” [Ashly McGlone and Jack Molmud, Voice of San Diego]

Discrimination law roundup

  • Don’t try to pull a “back where she came from” tirade at a private workplace [EEOC guidance (“potentially unlawful” for employer to allow); Daniel Schwartz]
  • “B.C. groin waxing case is a mockery of human rights” [Rex Murphy, National Post] Also from Canada: “Single dad facing Human Rights Complaint for asking the age and gender of a potential babysitter” [Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, related case]
  • Canada continued: inquiry on missing and murdered indigenous women “strips the word genocide of meaning” [Jonathan Kay, Quillette]
  • More evidence that “ban the box” laws restricting criminal record inquiries “induce firms to engage in statistical discrimination that negatively affects the employment prospects of minorities.” [Peter Van Doren/Cato, earlier here and here]
  • Disparate-impact watch: Fifth Circuit rules, over a dissent, that landlords do not violate the federal Fair Housing Act by declining to accept Section 8 rent vouchers [opinion and denial of rehearing en banc (7-9) in Inclusive Communities Project v. Lincoln Properties; earlier here]
  • “Agencies that enforce antidiscrimination laws tend to be oblivious or hostile to constitutionally protected liberties in general and freedom of speech in particular.” [David Bernstein]

Can landlords opt out of the Section 8 rental program?

The Section 8 federal housing voucher program was conceived as one in which owners of rental properties participate voluntarily, but that may be changing. One straw in the wind: the push for “source of income discrimination” laws prohibiting landlords from turning away Section 8 tenants. Another: a new Third Circuit decision declaring that the owner of a unit converted to market-rate could not refuse to renew a lease even after the original tenant died. I look at Hayes v. Harvey in my new post at Cato.

Baltimore County to consider bill forcing landlords to take Section 8

In suburban Baltimore County, county executive Kevin Kamenetz has introduced a bill to ban “housing voucher discrimination,” that is to say, a bill requiring landlords to take Section 8 tenants. “Kamenetz is required to introduce the bill as part of a housing discrimination settlement with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development that was reached this year. … If [it] does not pass the County Council, the HUD settlement requires it to be reintroduced in future years.” Landlords and property owners say that it is unfair to force them to enroll against their will in a program with cumbersome paperwork and inspections. [Pamela Wood, Baltimore Sun] HUD is now arm-twisting jurisdictions nationwide into enacting these bad laws; earlier here (bad renter trashes unit), here, etc.

Update: County legislature votes down bill [Baltimore Campaign for Liberty]

December 5 roundup

  • “An important win for property owners”: Supreme Court rules 8-0 that protected species habitat doesn’t include tracts containing no actual dusty gopher frogs and not inhabitable by them absent modification [Roger Pilon, George Will, earlier on Weyerhaeuser v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Cato Daily Podcast with Holly Fretwell and Caleb Brown (“The Frog Never Had a Chance”)]
  • Proposed revision of federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) would expand definition of domestic violence to include nonviolent “verbal, emotional, economic, or technological” abuse. Vagueness only the start of the problems here [Wendy McElroy, The Hill]
  • Bad ideas endorsed by the American Bar Association, part 3,972: laws requiring landlords to take Section 8 tenants [ABA Journal; earlier on “source of income discrimination” laws]
  • Minneapolis “Healthy Foods Ordinance” drives up costs for convenience stores, worsens food waste, pressures ethnic grocers into Anglo formats [Christian Britschgi]
  • New York Attorney General-elect Letitia (Tish) James has been zealous about suit-filing in recent years, quality another matter [Scott Greenfield]
  • “Plaintiff wins $1,000 in statutory damages for technical violation of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. (Debt collector illegally used the words ‘credit bureau’ in its business name.) After plaintiff’s lawyers seek $130k in fees, district court awards them the princely sum of $0. Fifth Circuit: Just so. While fees are ordinarily mandatory, ‘special circumstances’ obtain here: The record suggests that the plaintiff colluded with her lawyers to generate this ‘outrageous’ fee-heavy lawsuit in Texas instead of in her home state of Louisiana.” [John Kenneth Ross, IJ “Short Circuit” on Davis v. Credit Bureau of the South]

Maryland roundup

“Every landlord’s worst nightmare” video

A video from the humor site The Chive has been making the rounds with a landlord’s narration of the ghastly extent of damage to a family home done by a single really bad tenant participating in the federal Section 8 housing-voucher program (and not responsible for most of the rent). Some landlords might react to such an experience by becoming more wary of Section 8 tenants and subjecting them to extra screening or interviewing, while others might be more convinced by assurances (from various quarters supportive of the Section 8 program) that horror stories are in no way typical and that tenants using the vouchers are no more likely to trash a property than any other tenants.

Such a difference of opinion might be of relatively limited interest — some landlords could follow one strategy, others the opposite, and experience would tell which was the more successful — except that the Obama administration and its allies are taking the position that “discrimination” against Section 8 tenants, whether in the form of extra scrutiny of their applications, turning them away as applicants, or anything else, should be illegal. That is one of the major demands of HUD’s lawsuit against Westchester County, N.Y., and it is the substance of laws passed in Cook County, Ill. and elsewhere lately, at the urging of “fair housing” groups, banning so-called source-of-income discrimination. [Chicago Reporter, Courier News, Tenants Union of Washington State] The message of these laws to hapless landlords like the one who narrates the Chive video is: sorry about your house getting trashed, but tough luck, see you in court if you try to protect yourself. (& welcome Above the Law readers).

HUD, Westchester approach showdown

By a 12-4 vote, the board of legislators of the suburban New York county has approved going to court against the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development in the long-running dispute. HUD is still insisting that the county enact a “source of income discrimination” law barring private landlords from turning away Section 8 federally aided tenants, as well as critically reexamine zoning rules in its various towns. [Peter Applebome, NYT, Journal-News, Newsday] Earlier here, etc.

HUD vs. Westchester: what’s at stake

I’ve got a new piece at Reason on the long-running dispute between the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and the government of Westchester County in suburban NYC. Claiming that Westchester has failed to follow through on promises of attracting more minority homeowners, HUD is suing the county and wielding funding cutoffs to get it to step up a large commitment to subsidized housing, override town zoning rules, and enact an ordinance forbidding private landlords from turning away Section 8 tenants. The WSJ editorialized yesterday on the subject. Further background: ironic that county is being penalized after seeking to cooperate [Gerald McKinstry, Newsday; Joanne Wallenstein, Scarsdale 10583]; former Democratic county legislator backs county executive Rob Astorino on so-called “source of income” legislation [Journal-News]; similar law already in effect in Washington, D.C. [Examiner]; earlier coverage here, here, etc., and my 2009 City Journal account.

P.S. Shortly after our piece, a Second Circuit panel ruled the county out of compliance. ProPublica, the foundation-supported reporting-and-opinion outfit, has been doing a series of reporting-and-opinion pieces taking the plaintiffs’ side, including this latest.