Controversial legislation that would ban landlords in Baltimore County from rejecting someone because they are using a housing voucher, commonly called section 8, is to be introduced next week at the County Council.
The so-called “source of income discrimination legislation” was soundly defeated when it last went before the council three years ago.
If last time is any gauge, you can expect battle lines to be drawn over this legislation.
Opponents say landlords should be able to decide for themselves whether they want to deal with the government and the red tape that comes with housing vouchers. Supporters counter that continuing to allow landlords to reject tenants or buyers because they use housing vouchers clearly is discriminatory.
County Executive Johnny Olszewski is required to introduce the legislation this year. It’s part of a settlement the county reached in 2016 with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development over a discrimination complaint.
Olszewski he has consistently spoken out in favor of the legislation.
In an interview with WYPR earlier this year, Olszewski said, “Failure to have any sort of protections on the books is a failure to serve our residents. It’s a failure to provide affordable housing. And it’s a failure to grow our county.”
Olszewski plans to hold a news conference Friday morning to announce the housing voucher proposal.
The legislation likely has a rough road ahead. Five of the seven members of the current council were there three years ago and voted against it. And what’s being introduced next week mirrors that original legislation.
Councilman David Marks said he believes he and his fellow Republicans on council, Wade Kach and Todd Crandell, will be no votes.
“The three of us view this as a private property rights issue,” Marks said.
Marks is also concerned that it could pave the way for more rental properties in neighborhoods that are struggling to keep homeowners.