Council passes resolution to end housing discrimination

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin City Council passed a resolution aimed at eliminating housing discrimination based on a prospective renter’s source of income or use of Section 8 vouchers. Such an ordinance would require more property owners to accept the vouchers from tenants in the affordable housing program.

Supporters say Section 8 tenants are severely limited on living choices because many apartment properties do not accept affordable housing vouchers. They also say many of those that do accept the vouchers have substandard living conditions.

“The options are very limited and with the few options there are, conditions are run down,” said Evita Cruz, a mother of two who depends on Section 8 housing. “I have to because I don’t have a choice.”

One speaker during public forum told council members that Austin is in a “sorry state of affairs” when it comes to providing affordable housing.

A landlord opposing the resolution said requiring a property owner to accept Section 8 vouchers would add additional liabilities and burdens on smaller properties.

“It is like putting a round peg in a square hole,” said Bob Thompson. “(Section 8) is not intended to be a mandatory thing,” said Thompson.

Thompson said he sympathizes with those who are in search of affordable housing, but believes an ordinance requiring properties to accept vouchers would rob landlords of many liberties they currently use to conduct good business with responsible renters.

“There are additional hurdles we would have to jump through to satisfy HUG requirements.

The exact wording for the new ordinance has not yet been written. The item passed on Thursday was only a resolution to create a new ordinance regarding housing discrimination.

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