Fair Housing Issues Front and Center of Consider the Person Campaign Launch

New campaign to dispel myths of Housing Choice Voucher Program Launches in Baltimore Metro Area 

Family_houseBaltimore, Md. (November 7, 2013)—Community Development Network of Maryland, formerly the Maryland ABCD Network, is pleased to announce the launch of the Consider the Person campaign. The campaign focuses on dispelling the many myths surrounding the Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly known as Section 8), and engaging landlords and community members around fair housing issues.

Currently, availability for affordable housing units has outpaced demand by approximately 6.8 million housing units nationwide, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. In Maryland, more than 29,000 families receive voucher assistance.

“All too often, language used to describe voucher holders is full of negative stereotypes and misconceptions,” said Odette Ramos, Community Development Network of Maryland, Executive Director. “The truth is that more than half of voucher holders are elderly and veterans, or active in the work force who have income that is not enough to cover market-rate rental expenses in the region. Like anyone else, voucher holders want to be a part of and contribute to a thriving community that they can call home.”

Typical families pay one-third of their income on housing expenses and for those that have to spend more than that their housing is not affordable. Many families that are not making enough have a household income too low to afford such a large amount in housing expenses, with voucher holders’ average annual income of only $15,810. Housing Choice Voucher programs are administered by regional public housing authority and community development organizations.

Other often misunderstood facts about the Housing Choice Voucher Program include:

  • Voucher holders are required to pay the portion of their rent that is not covered by their voucher. This is not a “free ride” as is often believed.
  •  Landlords are encouraged to screen all applicants regardless of their status as a voucher holder, and to apply the same screening criteria to every applicant to accordance with Fair Housing laws. A landlord may reject an applicant who does not meet those screening criteria.
  • Voucher holders can actually lose their voucher if they fail to comply with lease requirements or pay their rent. If a Voucher Program participant violates the lease, the landlord may evict the Voucher Program participant, just as the landlord would evict any tenant who violates the lease. Once a voucher is revoked the client can never get another one.

Issues surrounding the Housing Choice Voucher Program participants have grown in recent years, with opposition among landlords and community members to voucher holders resulting in fewer housing options for voucher holders. While there are no federal protections against discrimination based on source of income, some local jurisdictions have passed anti-discrimination laws that prevent landlords from discriminating against potential renters based on their source of income. In Maryland, Howard, Montgomery and Frederick Counties are the only jurisdictions that protects against this type of discrimination.

More facts and information about the Housing Choice Voucher Program can be found at http://considertheperson.org.

About the Consider The Person Campaign

The Consider The Person Campaign is a project of Community Development Network of Maryland (formerly the Maryland ABCD Network). The mission of the Community Development Network of Maryland is to engage and strengthen Maryland’s community development industry and encourage comprehensive community development through advocacy, partnerships, and capacity building. The campaign is run by an Advisory Board made up of member organizations of Community Development Maryland. More information and campaign updates can be found online at http://considertheperson.org.

 

Landlords, tenants and representatives from the campaign are available for interview. Please contact Daniel Waldman at 443-326-3444 or daniel@simplyevolve.com to request an interview.