The Board of Supervisors took action today to prevent various forms of housing discrimination by approving a motion to implement the guarantees of the federal Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968 to protect renters from discrimination, but proactive measures to eliminate discrimination in housing as required by the law were never taken.
The LA County motion will prohibit landlords from denying a lease to prospective renters on the basis of their source of income, such as Section 8 voucher holders and also calls for fair housing testing, tenant education, landlord incentives, a study of gentrification and displacement, and a $5 million commitment to the effort.
The Board action was taken in response to a report prepared by the Community Development Commission/Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles that noted that LA County has a less than 3% vacancy rate, and Section 8 discrimination further limits rental options for those who need a place to live .
Los Angeles has a high rate of denied Section 8 vouchers. A 2018 Housing and Urban Development survey of five cities found that LA’s denial rates (76 percent) were second only to Fort Worth (78 percent) , somewhat higher than Philadelphia (67 percent) and substantially higher than Newark (31 percent) and Washington D.C. (15 percent ).
“Implementation of the nation’s Fair Housing Act is 50 years overdue,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, author of the motion. “With today’s action, LA County is saying we will wait no longer. Discrimination in housing is exacerbating our housing and homelessness crisis by allowing landlords to discriminate and deny leases to families who want and can pay for housing.”
“The Board of Supervisors is tackling the pervasive housing discrimination that, for decades, has hampered the health, well-being and economic prosperity of too many Los Angeles County residents,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, co-author of the motion, said. “With this motion, we can commit resources, programs and ordinances needed to provide fair housing testing, tenant education, landlord incentives, gentrification analysis, and a potential expansion of low-income homeownership.”
The Director of LA’s nonprofit Housing Rights Center Chancela Al-Mansour, added, “Today’s Board action takes aim at the racist and discriminatory legacy of housing markets. Here in Los Angeles County, we need more housing, but we also need a level playing field that allows anyone who can pay for an apartment to be able to rent one.” The Housing Rights Center was founded in 1968, the same year as the federal Fair Housing Act, to address issues racial discrimination and tensions in Los Angeles County.