Rental owners have to be held accountable or segregation continues
May 14, 2018 at 3:10 PM
Rhonda Curtis, a mom who used the voucher program to move from a public housing complex to Baltimore Coounty, talks about the wait list for the voucher program ending. (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun video)
Beware of folks who feel compelled to expressly state they are the good guys and then refer to studies without identifying them ("Balt. Co. rental owners aren't the bad guys," May 9). Adam Skolnik's letter criticizing The Sun's May 4 editorial supporting "source of income" laws that prevent landlords from discriminating against Section 8 vouchers is disingenuous at best. What studies like "Source of income discrimination and fair housing policy" (Journal of Planning Literature 2017) actually say is that discrimination against voucher holders prevents them from moving to new areas of higher opportunities.
Laws prohibiting discrimination based on source of income are a major tool to combat racial segregation and concentrations of poverty. It's the reason why 13 states, over 40 local jurisdictions (including three Maryland counties and three Maryland cities) passed laws preventing this kind of discrimination. Washington state just enacted a statewide prohibition against the practice, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is urging his state to enact a similar bill and national entities such as the American Bar Association urge governments to stop this insidious practice.
And, in spite of the fears of Mr. Skolnik, the executive director of the Maryland Multi-Housing Association, the rental industry has done just fine in jurisdictions that have enacted source of income laws.
Housing segregation along lines of wealth and race have a long history throughout the U.S. Maryland has a shameful history of housing discrimination affecting many groups, but particularly African Americans who comprise the majority of voucher holders in the state. It is time for Maryland to move forward.
Antonia F. Fasanelli, Baltimore
The writer is executive director of the Homeless Persons Representation Project.