State Reps. Adam C. Miller (D-Columbus) and Terrence Upchurch (D-Cleveland) this week announced House Bill (HB) 229, legislation that would prohibit landlords from discriminating against tenants who utilize the federal government’s Housing Choice Voucher program.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 was amended in 1988 and prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status or disability. Once unit-based, the process of applying for public housing has shifted over the years to a voucher-based system in order to eliminate redlining, or discrimination in housing laws. The voucher system ensures recipients can find housing in communities of their choice. However, discrimination in housing—particularly against economic disadvantaged minorities—continues.

“Most landlords are stepping up and doing the right thing,” said Rep. Miller. “This bill simply codifies common sense: you shouldn’t be able to deny someone a home just because they are getting some help. The whole movement to vouchers was aimed at inclusion and choice, and this bill ensures that.”

In Ohio, approximately 34% of households rent their homes, and more than 225,000 households use a federal housing voucher to help pay the rent. Housing Choice Voucher holders often struggle to find a rental home from landlords who have blanket policies against accepting vouchers as payment. In most areas, landlords are permitted under the law to openly discriminate against these possible tenants.

“Too many Ohioans, and especially Ohioans of color, are working harder than ever but still have trouble paying their rent,” said Rep. Upchurch. “This legislation will help prevent a new form of redlining and work to create true multi-income, multi-cultural communities.”

The new bill would prohibit landlords from discriminating against tenants based on form of payment–particularly the use of federal vouchers for rent. Fifteen states have passed similar laws.

HB 229 will be referred to a committee for further consideration.

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