California Allows Discrimination Against Low-Income Renters


Many Californians Have Low Income

Many renters in California are individuals and families who are struggling to get by on low and very low income. These renters include folks who are elderly, disabled, women with children, veterans, and other low-income members of society.

Many of these renters wait years on a waiting list to receive vouchers that allow them to rent apartments and homes, and pay 30% to 40% of their income to the landlord, and HUD’s section 8 Voucher program pays the rest.

Property Owners Discriminate

Unfortunately, many property owners refuse to rent to people with Section 8 vouchers. Despite this being a clear case of class discrimination against the poor, California allows it. While it is illegal in California to discriminate against someone – in housing rental, based on one’s source of income – discriminating against people with section 8 is not included in that prohibition.

Bill to Make Discrimination Against Section 8 Illegal

California Bill SB 1053, the Voucher Nondiscrimination bill sponsored by Senator Mark Leno, would have made it illegal to discriminate against renters based on their source of income because they get Section 8 financial assistance. This bill was supported by Tenants Together, the Western Center on Law and Poverty, Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, National Housing Law project, and Public Advocates. Unfortunately, the SB 1053 died in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Property Owners Greed

The California Apartment Association (an association that clearly favors property owners gouging renters for profit) fought against SB 1053, and California legislators quickly buckled. They clearly put profit above the safety, health and welfare of human beings.

California Allows Class Discrimination

What this means is that California legislators are actually allowing discrimination against low income people because they receive Section 8 rental assistance.

In the current rental market environment, far too many people are actually paying up to 50% – and more – of their income just for housing. Property owners are gouging renters by taking advantage of the fact that there are far more people needing housing than there are housing units available. Because there are too many people and too few available housing units, property owners are raising rents far beyond what is reasonable. Because they can. And they are not only getting away with it: California is openly allowing it to happen.

“Screw Those Who Can’t Afford It”

What that means, literally, is that people are being forced out of places where they were born and raised (too many actually becoming homeless), because they can no longer afford the ridiculously high rents. What is even worse is that there are people who, with Section 8 help, can afford to rent homes – but are actually being forced into homelessness because property owners refuse to accept Section 8 vouchers. These property owners would rather raise rents as high as the market will bear in order to keep increasing their profits. Their attitudes are, “Screw those who can’t afford it.

What If It Was You?

If you are someone who feels unaffected by any of this … take a moment to imagine that an unexpected series of events rendered you unable to generate the level of income you currently enjoy, or cause you to lose your home, and you were left struggling to get by in an increasingly hostile environment. Believe me, it is NOT impossible. What if you were denied a place to live, just because someone didn’t like where you got your money from? What would you do? You have little money, no home, and even with help to pay for one, no one will allow you a home …

Every person with a conscience should find discrimination against people with Section 8 vouchers not just wrong, but disgusting, revolting, and unacceptable.


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