Lt. Gov. Flanagan takes aim at discrimination against housing voucher recipients

Minnesota’s Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan and several other state leaders highlighted the Housing Stability Act during a press conference on Thursday. The Housing Stability Act is legislation that they say builds on historic investments in housing and ensures Minnesotans are not denied housing because they receive rental assistance.

“This bill makes clear that landlords who choose not to accept renters based on their use of housing vouchers are breaking the law,” Lieutenant Governor Flanagan said in a release. “Housing vouchers provided me with a safe place to live as a child, and we know that housing stability is the foundation of educational growth, stable employment, health, and safety. That’s why every Minnesotan deserves access to stable housing without discrimination.”

Section 8 and other housing voucher programs pay a portion of a recipient’s rent directly to the property. Minnesotans have to fall within certain income levels to be eligible for the assistance.

Flanagan and other advocates also discussed what prompted the crafting of the legislation and provide other details during Thursday’s event.

“In 1973, Minnesota legislators decided it is a violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act for a landlord to discriminate against someone because they pay their rent with rental assistance. For over 50 years, our Department has enforced that law,” Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero said in the release. “In 2010, a Court of Appeals case misapplied the Minnesota Human Rights Act with regards to housing vouchers – now is the time for legislatures to fix the law and get this right.”

According to the Metro HRA, 46% of housing voucher recipients in Anoka, Carver, and suburban Hennepin and Ramsey counties return their vouchers for multiple reasons, including not being able to find a landlord who accepts housing vouchers.

“Providing long-term rental assistance is a win-win situation for the renter and the property owner. The renter has stability in their housing, and the owner receives a guaranteed payment,” said Minnesota Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho. “Last year the state legislature created approximately 5,000 more vouchers. Now is the time to make sure properties accept eligible applicants and don’t discriminate based on source of income.”