MORE PROTECTED CLASSES?
To provide context, Arizona’s Fair Housing Act is virtually identical to the Federal FHA. Both boast the same protected classes: race, color, national original, sex, religion, familial status, and disability. Local ordinances exist in cities like Tucson and Phoenix that add protections for age, sexual orientation, marital status and other factors, making it illegal to be discriminated against people for these reasons in housing, but, for the most part, the Federal FHA wields the most power in terms of protecting people from illegal housing discrimination.
In an effort to increase protections under the FHA, prominent senators have begun the process of adding new protected classes. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, introduced the Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2018, which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of source of income and veteran status. This move was in response to landlords denying renters, especially veterans, using housing vouchers and other housing subsidies access to housing.
“This bill will address the fact that source of income is not a protected class under the Federal Fair Housing Act, thereby helping to remove an unnecessary barrier facing families and veterans on the path to self-reliance” stated Sen. Hatch.
At this time, ten states have statutes which include source of income as a protected class. Housing vouchers were championed as an efficient way to ensure that those who don’t have enough income can have access to affordable housing; however, fair housing organizations are seeing an increase in discrimination because a housing provider either sees the government voucher as an administrative burden or a welcome mat to undesirable tenants. The implementation of these additional protections would help make these voucher programs more effective in terms of getting people into more diverse and integrated communities of opportunity.