Campaigns and Policy Priorities
The campaign for Housing Opportunities Made Equal (The HOME Act)
“A family’s source of income should never be used as a basis to discriminate against them. We are sending a very clear message to those who seek federal funds that we intend to stand up for the cause of civil rights and expect them to do the same.” – former HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan.
Source of income discrimination is an insidious form of discrimination that contributes to concentrations of poverty, prevents access to good schools and jobs, and contributes to poor health. This form of discrimination perpetuates segregation based on race, disability, and other protected classes. It follows that preventing this form of discrimination can lead to economic, health and education benefits, including increased earnings, reduction in mental health and behavioral/emotional challenges, and improved reading and math scores among children.
While Montgomery, Howard and Frederick counties and the cities of Annapolis and Frederick have prohibited this form of discrimination for years, many Maryland communities still permit property owners to deny housing to persons based on their source of income including most of Baltimore's rental properties.
Baltimore City HOME Act
On December 3, 2018, Councilmember Ryan Dorsey introduced legislation to prohibit source of income discrimination in Baltimore City. On February 12, 2019, the City Council Housing and Urban Affairs Committee voted in favor of the bill. The bill was presented to the full Council for second reader on March 11, 2019. Although the bill passed, an amendment was added allowing landlords to continue to discriminate based on source of income once 20% of their contiguous units were occupied by tenants with housing vouchers. However, a subsequent amendment would remove the 20% non-discrimination provision in 4 years provided that the council does not act to extend the policy. The bill, with both amendments, was adopted by the full Council on 3rd and final reader on March 18th. For more information, read this Baltimore Sun article about the vote.
Councilman Dorsey’s bill enjoyed the support of the ACLU of MD, the Baltimore Housing Roundtable, Disability Rights MD, Health Care for the Homeless, Housing Our Neighbors, Jews United for Justice, the Public Justice Center, the Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership, BRIDGE MD, the Citizens Planning and Housing Association, the Community Development Network of MD and United Workers. The Baltimore Branch of the NAACP also supported the bill. The branch was able to publish two Op-Eds which you can read here and here.
Acting Mayor Young signed the bill in a ceremony on April 12, 2019.
Read about the Maryland state HOME Act.
American Bar Association Letter on Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2018
On November 14, ABA President Robert M. Carlson sent a letter to Senators Orrin Hatch and Tim Kaine thanking them for their leadership in introducing the Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2018, which would prohibit discrimination against persons based on their lawful source of income. The ABA recently adopted policy urging such legislation and opposing prejudice against people who are reliant on government support to make ends meet. Read the full letter.
Consider the Person Campaign
The Consider The Person Campaign is focused on changing the hearts and minds of landlords and communities about participants in the Housing Choice Voucher (formerly known as Section 8) Program, so that participants may live in any neighborhood they choose. Learn more by going to the Consider the Person Campaign website.
Affordable Housing Trust Fund Campaign
On October 29, 2018 the Baltimore City Council passed legislation to create a dedicated funding stream for the city's Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF). The Mayor is expected to sign the bill on December 12, 2018.
The AHTF was created through a ballot initiative in 2016 and supported by 83% of voters in Baltimore City. Housing for All: Baltimore, a coalition of community-based nonprofits, community groups and advocates spearheaded the initiative.
The AHTF when funded, can be used for predevelopment activities, capital and operating assistance for the creation of community land trusts, affordable and fair housing as well as administrative and planning costs. All housing assisted by the Trust Fund will serve households with incomes at or below 50% of AMI. At least 50% of the units in any three-year period must serve households with incomes at or below 30% of AMI, including 25% of those units serving households at or below 20% of AMI. Furthermore, all rental housing assisted by the Trust Fund must have a minimum affordability period of at least 30 years. All homeownership housing assisted by the Trust Fund must meet affordability criteria based in part on the amount of Trust Fund monies invested in the unit.
Since the Trust Fund was established, however, it has lacked funding, The Fund the Trust Act will provide a stable revenue source for the AHTF to support and sustain a strategic response to Baltimore City’s affordable housing crisis.
Read more about the Fund the Trust Act.
Campaign to End Youth Homelessness
Homelessness among youth under the age of 25 who are on their own, unaccompanied by a parent or guardian, is on the rise in Maryland.
Most unaccompanied homeless youth have experienced serious conflict in their families, and only face further trauma and victimization while living in shelters or on the street. Without access to appropriate housing and supportive services, they are ill-equipped to transition to a stable and self-sufficient adulthood. It doesn’t have to be this way.
HPRP, in partnership with other advocates, service providers, and youth, is fighting to end unaccompanied youth homelessness in Maryland. We can protect and support our most vulnerable youth by ensuring that they have access to the housing and services they need for a stable transition to adulthood. In one of the richest states in one of the richest countries in the world, no young person should be homeless and alone. Not even for a single night.
Read more about HPRP's latest efforts to end youth homelessness.