Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Midday Edition

San Diego City Council Takes Up Proposal To Ban Discrimination Against Section 8 Renters

An apartment building that accepts housing vouchers in the Rolando neighborhood of San Diego, January 19, 2018.
Claire Trageser
An apartment building that accepts housing vouchers in the Rolando neighborhood of San Diego, January 19, 2018.
San Diego City Council Takes Up Proposal To Ban Discrimination Against Section 8 Renters
San Diego Takes Up Proposal To Prohibit Landlords From Discriminating Against Section 8 Renters GUEST: Georgette Gomez, San Diego City Councilmember

Ads for rental apartments in San Diego sometimes include the proviso that applicants with Section 8 vouchers need not apply. That notice would no longer be legal under a proposal made by city council member Georgette Gomez. She wants a new ordinance that would stop landlords from rejecting applications from tenants who use federal vouchers to pay part of their rent. Landlords say it's not discrimination but paperwork that makes Section 8. Rangel's untenable. The San Diego City Council takes up the proposal tomorrow and joining me is San Diego City Council member Georgette Gomez and welcome to the program. Thank you so much for inviting me. Now apparently the 36000 people or so who receive federal housing assistance in San Diego have been able to find housing. All right so why do you think we need a law like this. Well we need it because yes it is true that all voucher holders are house. But if we really look at how long did it take a voucher holder to find a home. We're looking at seven months if not more. And that's because currently because of state law it doesn't protect Section 8 voucher holders a sole source of income protection. Landlords can actually if you go to Craigslist and you just say no Section 8. There's a lot of listings that will come up which means that if you have section they don't bother and apply. I'm trying to remove that. I'm trying to tell the tenant the the the the real charge. It shouldn't matter how people are going to pay you shit allowed everybody to apply. Even S.A holders and they should be treated the same as anybody else. That's basically what we're trying to do. We need to ensure that section holders are not being discriminated which is currently it's what's occurring and I want to make sure that they're looked upon equally as you and I when we apply for housing. Is this also an attempt to expand the area of San Diego that Section 8 holders are able to apply and most definitely I mean data shows when we were looking at data for region there is a clear map that we were able to pull that basically demonstrates how most of Section 8 holders live south of the East. There is very little north of the 8. So we need to make everything possible as a government agency to ensure that we are allowing anybody to live wherever they choose to. A perfect example Penas Keadle project. They came to City Hall Not so long ago we because they lost that particular project it was over 300 units some of the people that lived there were Section 8 holders. We lost a covenant of that of that housing that that is going to be replaced by another project. We were able to get the developer the realtor the manager for that particular part project commit to assist the people living there too to help him find a different location. I was able to get the housing commission to dedicate a staffer to help and relocate some of the people there. It took them at least over four months to find a house. This is what people assisting them. Now imagine somebody that houses Section 8 hould voucher not having anybody helping you. You're just applying you're finding that just because you have that voucher you're immediately rejected from applying the proposal you're making doesn't actually require landlords to accept Section 8 applicants isn't it correct. This is not mandating landlords to. Now you have to take the Section 8 holder as a tenant basically what this proposal does is you need to look at the section 8 Holder similar similar application as somebody that doesn't have section 8 that's all. Now we spoke with Molly Kirkland with the San Diego County apartment association who says she understands the spirit of the ordinance but she says the program itself would create barriers for landlords. What we hear from members who don't participate or who will no longer participate is getting set up for the program itself is difficult and time consuming you know inspections can take weeks. We hear consistently that initial rent payments are delayed due to four months. You're a smaller owner. Certainly that can be a big financial hardship. So Councilwoman Gomez does she have a point. Well that's that's what we've heard. We've also heard that from from the realtors we are working with the housing commission which is the manager there though the ones that are managing section 8 to ensure that they're doing their part as well. I'm aware that the the process that the House and commission has been reduced. So it has improved. Does it need more room for improvement. Possibly. And I've said this to the to the realtors that I'm willing to also work with them to ensure that we are improving the other in the back end of this program to to ensure that it's working for everyone at the end of the day. My goal is to ensure that the person that has a section 8 voucher is able to find a home. Period. It is our responsibility as people that are managing the program to ensure that it's working for the people that are going to house that person. So I am also taking that into to heart. I heard them loud and clear and that's why the first year it's going to be about educating the realtors second year. It's also we're going to be putting some money to ensure that the Durres security deposits are guaranteed to the Realtors as well. And we're going to be working with the housing commission to improve the processing as much as possible if landlords are not in compliance with this proposal would there be any penalties. So right now where there's money is being granted to the legal aid society we are talking to them about possibly doing some enforcement just to basically carried a strong message to renters that this is the law. Now you cannot discriminate. So they are open to doing a implementation after the first year the educational year. So that is something that we're talking about as well. Would there be any actual penalties to the landlords though if they the regulation this written in the way that yes there will be penalties if there are if there is there is a case that can be proved that that happened. It's written in the way that there are penalties. I don't know the penalty amount. But there will be STRs penalties called out in the regulation. I've been speaking with San Diego City Council member Georgette Gomez. And thank you. Thank you.

Advertisements for rental apartments in the city of San Diego sometimes include the phrase, "no Section 8."

That notice would no longer be allowed under a proposed ordinance put forward by councilmember Georgette Gomez.

The Source of Income Discrimination Ordinance would prohibit landlords from rejecting rental applications from Section 8 renters solely because they get federal housing vouchers to help pay for their rent.

Gomez said Section 8 voucher holders often have a difficult time securing housing, and existing rules are partly to blame for racially segregated neighborhoods.

Landlords argue it’s not discrimination, but paperwork that makes Section 8 rentals untenable.

RELATED: San Diego Councilwoman Puts Stricter Control Over Housing Commission On Back Burner

More than 15,000 households in the city of San Diego receive Section 8 rental assistance, according to the San Diego Housing Commission.

The San Diego City Council takes up the proposed ordinance Tuesday.

Gomez talks about the proposal Monday on Midday Edition.

Explore all national, state and local returns now.