TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced legislation Friday that hopes to stop housing discrimination.
The Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) Act will prohibit housing discrimination based on the potential renter’s income, including vouchers. It’s scheduled to be introduced Monday, Oct. 7.READ MORE: Struggling Concert Venues Still Waiting On Federal Aid Promised In COVID-19 Relief Package
“We have both a legal and moral obligation to expand access to affordable housing in Baltimore County, and the HOME Act is a critical piece of the puzzle,” Olszewski said. “Discrimination of any kind is wrong, and we have to do everything in our power to expand economic opportunity, improve equity, and eliminate pockets of poverty in our communities.”
The HOME Act will make it illegal for landlords to refuse renters based solely on their income — in addition to race, sex, religion, and other legally protected groups. That income can come from a job, public assistance programs, benefits, and considerations or the sale of a property.
It also includes anyone who receives housing vouchers, or a source of supplemental income that helps low-income residents pay for their house.
Of the Baltimore County residents receiving housing choice vouchers, also known as Section 8, 32 percent are senior citizens, 25 percent are low-wage workers and 30 percent are people with disabilities.READ MORE: 21% Of Gen-Z'ers Would Not Get COVID-19 Vaccine, STAT-Harris Poll Finds
“It’s long past time for Baltimore County to act to protect county residents from housing discrimination,” Councilman Julian Jones said. “This bill gives people with disabilities, veterans and others a fair chance to do what’s best for their families. I applaud the county executive’s leadership on this issue and I’m optimistic that my colleagues will support this important bill.”
Sharonda Ellerby knows the struggle first-hand.
“It took me about three to four months to find a place. Every place that I called and said that I had Section 8, I would try to convince them that it’s good money, it’s steady money (but) no, no Section 8,” she said.
Montgomery, Howard and Frederick Counties have had laws prohibiting discrimination based on source of income for several years. Anne Arundel County and Baltimore City passed similar legislation earlier this year.MORE NEWS: 4 Men Shot By At Least 2 People While Playing Dice Game Tuesday Afternoon In East Baltimore, Police Say
For more information about the HOME Act, click here.