Gov. Reynolds indicators invoice letting landlords reject Part eight vouchers

Kim Reynolds, the governor of Iowa, has signed law ensuring that landlords can turn away tenants who receive federal election support through the voucher program.

The new law will remove the ability of cities and counties to prevent landlords from taking such action.

Reynolds’ signature, which her office announced on Friday without comment, comes after new Secretary of State for Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge warned the federal government of a possible lawsuit if Iowa passes the law.

The new law was supported by landlord groups who claim the federal program is optional and poses too many hurdles, such as an additional inspection and greater difficulty in recovering the cost of property damage.

“We try to educate our members on the benefits of accepting Section 8 or Housing Choice vouchers. We prefer, however, that this remains a voluntary program,” said Andrew Lietzow, executive director of the Iowa Landlords Association, in a post-interview interview The draft law was passed in the legislature at the beginning of spring.

However, the move has caused concern among housing attorneys and city officials in the three Iowa cities who have enacted ordinances to prevent landlords from discriminating against renters who use the coupons.

They say the new law will affect local control and likely have different effects on people of color and people with disabilities.

“If you reduce the number of landlords willing to accept the voucher, it just creates one more hurdle for … our most vulnerable populations,” said Chris Johansen, Des Moines Community Development Director.

Part of the new law comes into force immediately

Senate Act 252 prohibits Iowa cities and counties from enacting and enforcing regulations that prevent landlords from refusing to rent or rent units to applicants who pay the rent with a federal rental voucher.

Three cities in Iowa have such ordinances: Des Moines, Iowa City, and Marion. Reynolds’ signature will immediately prevent other cities from enacting new ordinances, but the law will not invalidate the existing ordinances in these three cities until January 1, 2023 to give them a grace period.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Iowans are using the federal coupons to pay for nearly 20,000 housing units nationwide. The median household income of participants is $ 12,577 per year.

Coupon recipients are more likely to be disabled and people of color: In Iowa, 27% of coupon holders are black, although black residents make up only 4% of the state’s population, according to the US Census Bureau. 29% of households in Section 8 have at least one person with a disability.

Iowa City Human Rights Coordinator Stefanie Bowers said the city passed its ordinance in 2016 to reduce the city’s concentration in certain areas by race and income, and this bill is likely to hamper those efforts.

“I think you will likely see the concern we had in 2016 with the over-concentration of people living in certain neighborhoods who are of a certain race or income,” Bowers said.

HUD secretary states that a lawsuit is possible

When Fudge spoke on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” on March 17th, when asked about Iowa law, he replied that “fair housing is the law of the country” and “if you want to argue about it, we’re ready.” fight over it. ”

When hostess Joy Reid asked her if Fudge would consider filing a lawsuit against states that pass such laws, Fudge said that was her recommendation.

“It’s a discussion I should have with the Justice Department, but I would clearly believe that we have the right to demand that these communities work together with what we do,” she said.

HUD has refused to provide additional comments on Fudge’s remarks.

Renee Williams, a senior attorney for the National Housing Law Project, which supports “Income Source Regulations” such as those in the three cities of Iowa, told the Des Moines Register that the Fair Housing Act does not include a source of income as a protected class could make a legal argument out of the the different effects that a source of income discrimination would have on protected classes.

“It is very encouraging that HUD appears to have an interest in really applying the Fair Housing Act to promote housing opportunities for voucher holders,” she said.

“Without vouchers, these tenants have no other place to rent.”

Democrats and housing advocates have said the bill is inconsistent with the governor’s other efforts to improve access to affordable housing across the state. The governor has tabled a separate proposal to expand tax credit programs and other revenue streams to support affordable housing initiatives.

Marion City Council passed a resolution last month declaring a formal opposition to the law. His regulation is “essential for the promotion and maintenance of equal housing for all residents of Marion”.

City administrator Lon Pluckhahn said the growing area was already facing an affordable housing problem that was exacerbated by last year’s derecho. He claimed to have some of the more affordable housing units in town.

“Even before this success we had more demand than supply,” he said. “Now are you going to set up an additional roadblock? It just doesn’t make sense.”

Pluckhahn said the city had seen lobbying by real estate groups seeking to get rid of the regulation at the local level, but the council stuck to the effort. He said the fact that Marion has seen only one case before the city’s civil rights commission related to income discrimination since the commission’s inception in 2011 is a sign that it is working.

City administrator’s assistant Amal Eltahir said the city’s civil rights commission is concerned about the impact on people of color and is working with landlords to educate them about the different effects the rejection of the vouchers could have.

In Des Moines, Johansen said he believes the city’s staff and city council will also have discussions about the next steps that could include the potential for incentives for landlords to participate.

“We haven’t had any real talks about it yet,” he said.

Eric Burmeister, executive director of the Polk County Housing Trust Fund, said he was concerned that the new law would make it difficult for central Iowans with vouchers to find available housing.

“Frankly, without the vouchers, these tenants have no other place to rent,” he said. “They’re just so poor that if they can’t find a place to get a voucher, they won’t be able to rent anywhere else.”

Lietzow said he supports the bill but would like to continue working to educate landlords about working with the voucher program. He said he would like cities to create incentives, such as a damage control fund, to encourage landlords to adhere to the program.

Register reporter Kim Norvell contributed to this report.

Ian Richardson covers the Iowa Statehouse for the Des Moines Register. Reach him at irichardso[email protected], at 515-284-8254, or on Twitter at @DMRIanR.

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