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State Lawmakers Consider Protections Against Housing Discrimination

Rachel Baye

Landlords in Baltimore City are required to accept housing vouchers for up to 20% of the units in a building, but for the other 80%, they can turn away tenants who are using vouchers. On Tuesday, the House of Delegates is expected to take up a bill that would prohibit that kind of discrimination statewide.

The measure would prohibit discrimination based on how a would-be home buyer or tenant plans to pay, whether it’s a housing voucher, alimony or any other source of income.

Del. Brooke Lierman, a Democrat who represents South Baltimore, is the bill’s lead House sponsor.

Lierman described a Coast Guard veteran who was turned down repeatedly by landlords who wouldn’t accept her veteran housing assistance voucher, “until she finally had to find a place quickly to use it in a neighborhood she didn’t want to live in or she would have lost the voucher.”

Several jurisdictions in the state already have similar protections in place, but Lierman said it’s important to have a consistent, statewide standard.

The bill, which has already passed the Senate, would not affect people who rent out a room in their home or a single apartment — just those who rent or sell three or more homes a year.

Rachel Baye is a senior reporter and editor in WYPR's newsroom. @RachelBaye
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