The Protected Class of Source of Income
Did you know that Source of Income is a protected class in Oregon?
As of July 1, 2014, in Oregon it is unlawful to refuse to rent to prospective tenants based on their source of income, including Section 8 and other federal rent subsidy payments.
The Realities of Source of Income Discrimination
The lack of federal protections for participants of HCVP results in pervasive and widespread discrimination in residential rental transactions. Often the denial of housing will serve as a pretext for a federally prohibited form of discrimination and disproportionately affects renters of color, women, and persons with disabilities. As a result, source of income discrimination contributes to the perpetuation of racially segregated communities and neighborhoods with concentrated poverty.
While housing choice vouchers are meant to assist people of all incomes in gaining access to reliable housing, voucher holders are often discriminated against in the home seeking process. This type of discrimination creates a disparate impact on voucher recipients who have the financial means to afford housing thanks to the federal assistance yet are denied access to available housing.
Source of Income discrimination defeats the purpose of the housing choice voucher program and its two primary goals: 1) to eliminate concentrations of poverty and the social problems it causes and 2) to provide low-income households with greater access to higher-opportunity neighborhoods.
Although not yet a federally protected class under the Fair Housing Act, Source of Income has been introduced at a federal level and is under review by The United States Committee on Housing, Banking, and Urban Affairs. The Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2022 includes Senate Bill 4485 and the identical House Bill 8213, which aims to expand the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on source of income, veteran status, or military status.
Housing choice vouchers are a vital resource for people from all walks of life and backgrounds, especially when considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent end to the eviction moratorium in Oregon. Protections around source of income are an important safety net for renters right now. There are also many benefits of the Housing Choice Voucher Program, including increased access to public benefits, educational opportunities for children, improved health, and reduced crime and substance abuse.