In Council News, Jamie Gauthier, Kendra Brooks, News, Nicolas O'Rourke, Rue Landau by Jamie Gauthier

PHILADELPHIA — Today, City Council’s Committee on Housing, Neighborhood Development, and the Homeless approved Bill No. 240060, which clarifies protections against housing discrimination for housing assistance program participants, particularly housing voucher holders. This bill is part of Councilmember Jamie Gauthier’s Defying Displacement campaign.

The bill will now be considered by the entire City Council. It is eligible for final passage as soon as Thursday, June 6th.

Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District), Chair of the Committee on Housing, Neighborhood Development, and the Homeless, said: “Thanks to illegal but tolerated discrimination, up to 1 in 3 voucher holders cannot put their vouchers to use. This means many Philadelphians with housing vouchers have no choice but to surrender hundreds of dollars of rental assistance they are entitled to by law. We must combat this injustice and get working families into homes by strengthening existing protections for residents using housing vouchers!”

At Councilmember Gauthier’s hearing on housing voucher discrimination last year, it became clear that the City must crack down on this illegal but common practice.

Councilmember Gauthier’s bill strengthens existing protections for Philadelphians using housing vouchers by making the following edits to the Fair Practice Ordinance:

  • Explicitly identifies rental vouchers such as PHA’s Housing Choice “Section 8” voucher as an example of a “housing assistance program” protected from discrimination.

  • Outlines in more detail that it is illegal to communicate and advertise that vouchers cannot be used to rent or buy a property.

  • Prohibits property owners from refusing or restricting availability, services, or repairs in a way that would prevent a voucher holder from accessing a unit.

  • Prohibits property owners from purposely failing to complete necessary paperwork to process rental vouchers in a timely manner.

  • Allows aggrieved renters to take immediate legal action if they receive private legal assistance.

  • Instructs the PCHR to provide tenants with a Notice of Right to Sue if the commission cannot complete their investigation within 100 days.

  • Makes appeal decisions more accessible for tenants by extending the judicial review period.

Philadelphia’s Fair Practices Ordinance already prohibits landlords and property managers from discriminating against persons based on the source of income they use to rent or purchase property. This ordinance currently names “housing assistance programs” as a protected source of income, which includes housing vouchers.

However, a local study found that 67% of landlords citywide refuse to accept housing vouchers. In low-poverty neighborhoods, this number jumps to 83%.

Discrimination against tenants using housing vouchers is so prevalent that many tenants have no choice but to give up their vouchers if they want to find a place to live. Surrendering their voucher means tenants give up hundreds of dollars in rental assistance each month which they are entitled to by law.

Bill No. 240060 is co-sponsored by Councilmembers Brooks, Landau, and O’Rourke.

# # #

Print Friendly, PDF & Email