Programs » Housing Access Project

Source of Income Discrimination

Discrimination against renters based on verifiable and legitimate sources of income is an unfair and discriminatory practice. Tenants who attempt to legally use a subsidy frequently hear comments like, “I don’t rent to people like you”. Some landlords advertise “No section 8” or will refuse an application for tenancy, regardless of the tenant’s rental and credit history, simply because of their lawful source of income. Washington State has already recognized the need to protect residents from housing discrimination based on their race, disability, sex, familial status and others. But a gaping loophole exists that leave many people in these categories, such as single parents, the disabled and the elderly open to discrimination based on their source of income. Policies like “no section 8” are a pretext for illegal discrimination and have a disparate impact on Washington’s most vulnerable families.

Renters who receive a verifiable source of legal income, such as social security, child support, SSI and section 8 vouchers (or any other governmental or non-profit subsidy) should not be automatically assumed to be unacceptable or undesirable renters. Stereotypes about recipients of either temporary or long-term assistance are unfair grounds to determine an applicant’s suitability as a renter: every renter should be given an equal opportunity to apply.

TU Victory! The TU worked to win this important protection in the City of Redmond. Moved by powerful testimony from tenants and housing advocates, the Redmond City Council voted to outlaw discrimination against renters who use Section 8 vouchers or other government income to pay their rent. Go to Tenants Union Membership to find out more about becoming a member to support the TU’s work for housing justice.