Editor, The Messenger,

We write in support of the Athens City Council’s proposed ordinance to ban “source of income” as a reason to discriminate in housing (Athens Messenger article, May 18, 2021). We join the many cities across the state and country that recognize how limiting renters by income or source of income affects the most vulnerable renters, including people with disabilities, who qualify for vouchers through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

While it is unlawful to discriminate in housing against a person within a protected class under the Civil Rights Act of 1974, this legislation does not include “income” or “source of income” as a protected class.

The “Housing Choice Vouchers Fact Sheet” from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development website, states: “The housing choice voucher program is the federal government’s major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market.” Under the voucher program, landlords can charge full market value prices. Qualifying tenants pay a percentage of their income and HUD vouchers pay the remainder of the cost. Since this program is targeted to support low-income families, the elderly and those living with disabilities, a landlord’s refusal to accept vouchers denies these individuals the right to live where they choose, like other citizens.

Home. It’s more than a room with four walls and a door. It’s a place that provides shelter and allows us a space to move around and go about our daily lives. Passing this ordinance would open up options for more community members to find a space to call home. Join us by contacting your City Council representative and let them know you support this ordinance.

Sincerely,

Athens City Commission on Disabilities

Advocacy Committee

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