Housing in Brief: Delaware Bans Housing Voucher Discrimination

Also, Canada temporarily bans foreign investors from buying real estate

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Delaware Bans Housing Voucher Discrimination for Real This Time

Delaware’s state senate passed a bill requiring landlords to accept housing vouchers, according to Delaware Public Media. While the Delaware Fair Housing Act bans source of income discrimination, it contained a loophole whereby landlords were exempt from enforcement for refusing government vouchers. The recently passed bill, which would take effect six months after being signed into law by the governor, repeals this loophole. According to a synopsis of the bill by the Delaware General Assembly, there are only 38 affordable housing units for every 100 extremely-low income Delaware residents.

According to the American Bar Association, source of income discrimination disproportionately impacts women, Black people and other people of color as well as disabled people. Since 2017, the ABA has recommended that local jurisdictions pass their own source of income discrimination bans. Source of income protections cover 16 states and over 90 cities, according to the ABA.

But banning discrimination is not enough without enforcement. In NYC, the unit that enforces protections for voucher holders currently has zero staff members, according to City Limits. The last attorney in the Human Rights Commissions Source of Income Unit resigned on April 1, according to the publication.

A former head of the unit told City Limits that defunding the unit “actively harms the most under-resourced New Yorkers — those from historically oppressed communities, those with disabilities and those most in need of stable housing.”

Miami Gets Closer to Passing Tenant Bill of Rights

The Miami-Dade County Public Housing and Community Services Committee voted for an ordinance that would create a “bill of rights” for Miami tenants on April 19, according to the Miami Times. The bill would require landlords to alert month-to-month tenants when their buildings are sold. It would also make it illegal to request or consider the eviction history of prospective tenants and allow tenants to deduct the cost of necessary apartment repairs from their rent. That last provision is opposed by the Miami Association of Realtors, according to the Miami Herald, on the basis that tenants could inflate their charges. And the provision on eviction history is opposed by the South East Florida Apartment Association, the Herald reports. The bill could still be amended prior to a May 3 vote before the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners.

Canada Bans Foreign Home Buying for Two Years

Making good on a re-election campaign promise, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a two-year ban on the purchase of new homes by foreign investors earlier this month. Permanent residents and students with visas will be excluded from the ban, according to the Guardian. The ban is meant to slow the growth of housing prices, which last March were 11.2% higher than a year before, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. According to a Reuters analysis, interest rate hikes from Canada’s central bank have already slowed price growth since February. Canadian provinces have tried to address home buying by non-residents, including Ontario and British Columbia, which each passed a tax on foreign home-buying.

Study Shows Affordable Housing in Virginia Does Not Lower Property Values

A study of 40 multi-family affordable housing developments built between 2000-2020 found a slight increase in property values among neighboring homes in Alexandria, according to a report from the Urban Land Institute. This effect occurred in higher-income neighborhoods as well as lower-income neighborhoods. The increase — which the study authors referred to as “small but statistically significant” — could refute claims by some NIMBY homeowners who protest affordable housing on the basis that it could decrease their home values.

This article is part of Backyard, a newsletter exploring scalable solutions to make housing fairer, more affordable and more environmentally sustainable. Subscribe to our weekly Backyard newsletter.

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Roshan Abraham is Next City's housing correspondent and a former Equitable Cities fellow. He is based in Queens. Follow him on Twitter at @roshantone.

Tags: virginiahousing voucherscanadadelawaretenant bill of rights

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