SB75 Seeks to Require Acceptance of Section 8
In late 2020 the State Legislature provided funding for The African American Task Force (AATF) to study and report, to the General Assembly, its findings and recommendations regarding the conditions that highlight the inequities within socioeconomically marginalized African American communities in this State in a variety of areas (including housing, education criminal justice, etc.). The DAA certainly supports social justice initiatives, but we also would expect that all stakeholders be invited to participate in the process.
On 3/2/2021 several board members of the DAA attended an open public virtual meeting of this task force, made aware in advance to all DAA board members via email so as many representatives as possible could attend, to ensure the interests of our association were considered. There are several screenshots below of the items discussed during the task force’s meeting. As it stands now, the task force does not have any representation from the multifamily industry, the DAA has not been invited to participate in any manner, and the task force seems singularly focused on pushing legislation through the assembly without hearing our input regarding legislation that could have profound implications for our members.
Most pressing, is Senate Bill 75 (SB75) which has already been introduced to the Housing Senate committee and is expected to move quickly. SB75 revises the Fair Housing Act to repeal the exception to discrimination based on source of income that allows a landlord to discriminate against tenants who participate in government-sponsored rental assistance programs. To simplify, landlords would be required to accept Section-8 and other housing vouchers regardless of their ability to administer or navigate the program’s cumbersome requirements.
The task force also indicated that they would be introducing several additional bills to the assembly addressing priority housing issues, that include a homeless person’s bill of rights and a right to legal counsel for tenant’s facing eviction.
Since the AATF has not solicited the input of the DAA and has not shown interest in scheduling a meeting to hear our comments on the proposed legislation, I expect that making our opposition heard is not going to be easy. The DAA has reached out to the National Apartment Association who will be providing support and guidance as we relentlessly work to oppose the upcoming legislation. Members will receive an email later this week with additional resources from the DAA to get your comments sent to the sponsors of this bill as quickly as possible. Since Legislative Hall is closed to the public, there may not be an option for public comment so submitting information through the DAA link is critical.