August 1, 2018

By City News Service

SAN DIEGO (CNS and KGTV) – The San Diego City Council Tuesday approved a code amendment that prohibits housing discrimination against applicants using Section 8 vouchers or other rent substitutes.

The proposed code amendment blocks landlords from rejecting applicants based solely on voucher status, though they would still retain a right, based on other rental criteria, to choose residents who don’t use subsidies.

Studies have found that prohibiting income-based discrimination leads to increased neighborhood options for residents and decreased segregation.

“Hearing from the community was very powerful and I am happy that the Council approved the ordinance to end housing discrimination taking place in San Diego,” said Councilmember Georgette Gómez. “This is one step towards helping increase access to affordable housing for all San Diegans.”

Local California governments with such provisions include Berkeley, Corte Madera, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Marin County, San Francisco, Santa Clara County, Santa Monica and Woodland.

San Diego’s proposed ordinance also establishes a landlord contingency fund for property damage or lost rent related to renters with vouchers.

Implementation of the proposal is expected to take two years. Year one focuses on voluntary compliance as well as landlord outreach and education of the potential benefits of renting to Section 8 users, including consistent on-time rent payments, long-term tenancies, flexible leases and background checks.

Year two introduces investigation and enforcement services.

More than 15,000 low-income households receive Section 8 assistance through the San Diego Housing Commission. That breaks down to 36,478 individuals, 86 percent being people of color.

In June, the San Diego City Council’s Smart Growth and Land Use Committee advanced the ordinance to the council with no recommendation through a split 2-2 vote. Council members Georgette Gomez and David Alvarez supported the proposal, while council members Scott Sherman and Lorie Zapf did not.

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