October 3, 2023
Richard J. Monocchio, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary
Danielle Bastarache, Deputy Assistant Secretary
Office of Public and Indian Housing
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Re: HUD guidance on source of income discrimination
Dear HUD colleagues,
We are writing to urge HUD (and specifically the Office of Public and Indian Housing) to issue guidance to public housing authorities and to the general public that will help to protect families with Housing Choice Vouchers from discrimination based on their source of income.
Almost 60% of families with HUD vouchers live in places with source of income discrimination protections in place,1 and yet discrimination continues to be rampant, even where these protections exist.2 Sometimes this discrimination is masked by supposedly neutral requirements like “minimum income requirements” or “credit checks.” In other cases, property owners complain about long delays in inspections and lease approval.
We believe that Public Housing Authorities have an important role to play in protecting their voucher clients from discrimination. The current status quo, to simply permit families to be discriminated against in violation of state or local law, is a dereliction of PHAs’ duty to affirmatively further fair housing, as HUD data indicates that families with vouchers are disproportionately Black and Latino, and also comprise a large percentage of residents with disabilities.3 The relationship between source of income discrimination and fair housing is also reflected in the 2015 AFFH Guidebook,4 and in the HUD Office of Fair Housing’s recent decision to permit FHIP funds to be used for source of income discrimination testing.5
1 See “Expanded protections for families with Housing Choice Vouchers (PRRAC, September 2022), https://www.prrac.org/pdf/soi-voucher-data-brief.pdf.
2 See Mary Cunningham et al, A Pilot Study of Landlord Acceptance of Housing Choice Vouchers (HUD, 2018), https://www.huduser.gov/portal/sites/default/files/pdf/Landlord-Acceptance-of-Housing-Choice-Vouchers.pdf.
3 The extent of the racial impact of source of income discrimination is particularly acute in the states where SOI discrimination has been outlawed. For example: California’s HCV population is 59% Black and Latino (categories from HUD PICS 2022 are non-Hispanic Black or Hispanic); CO 51%; CT 79%; DC 97%; HI 18% (plus 58% Asian Pacific Islanders); IL 85 %; MD 81 %; MA 56 %; MN 54 %; NJ 74 %; NY 69 %; ND 15 % (plus 8% Native American); OK 59%; OR 23%; RI 51%; UT 24%; VT 8%; VA 76%; WA 32%. Percentages of Black and Latino voucher families are even higher in most cities and metro areas with source of income discrimination laws.
4 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule Guidebook (HUD, 2015), https://www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/FHEO/documents/AFFH-Rule-Guidebook.pdf.
5 See FHEO Memo to Fair Housing Initiatives Program Grantees, dated August 2, 2021, https://www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/FHEO/documents/FHIP%20Testing%20and%20Enforcement%20Activities%20AAS%20Memo%20Final%2C%208.2.2021.pdf