The Baltimore City Council is set to take up legislation that would make it illegal for landlords to discriminate against potential tenants because of how they would pay their rent, a move largely designed to stop property owners rejecting Section 8 vouchers out of hand.
Advocates for tenants say the legislation would make it easier for people to find housing once they’re granted a rent subsidy voucher and would increase the number of neighborhoods where poor people can live.
Councilman Ryan Dorsey introduced the bill at Monday’s meeting. It has 10 cosponsors — sufficient support for the measure to pass.
“We must take every step possible to tear down barriers to high-quality housing opportunity for all,” Dorsey said in a speech from the council chamber floor. “How a person's rent or mortgage is paid should have no bearing on where they’re allowed to live.”
State lawmakers have tried to pass similar legislation, which technically bans landlords from discriminating based on “source of income,” as have council members in Baltimore County. But the state and county measures have been controversial, with supporters blaming opponents for stereotyping voucher holders and saying they falsely link them to crime and disorder.
Dorsey said that passing the legislation in Baltimore would send a signal to the General Assembly about the issue’s importance and help spur an effort to impose the same standard statewide. The City Council adopted a resolution Monday calling on the state to act.