Bennet, Kaine, Colleagues Unveil Bill To Protect Veterans, Military Servicemembers, and Low-Income Families From Housing Discrimination

Legislation Will Prevent Landlords From Discriminating Against Individuals Based on Who They Are and How They Pay Their Rent

Denver – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) unveiled the Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2022 to protect veterans, military servicemembers, and low-income families from housing discrimination. 

Current federal law allows landlords to deny housing to individuals based on the source of income they use to pay their rent, as well as their veteran and military status. As a result, many veterans, military servicemembers, and low-income families have experienced discrimination when using housing vouchers to pay their rent. The Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2022 would expand protections under the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to include banning discrimination based on source of income, military status, and veteran status, giving more families access to affordable housing and a shot at economic mobility. 

"With Coloradans in the middle of a housing crisis, no family should face additional hurdles while searching for a home," said Bennet. "But right now, military servicemembers, veterans, and low-income families can be denied housing based on how they pay their rent. Our legislation will help end this harmful discrimination and protect families looking for a place to live."

“As a former fair housing attorney, I’ve witnessed how affordable housing can provide stability and open the door to opportunity—but I’ve also seen how housing discrimination unjustly locks people out of that opportunity,” said Kaine. “This legislation would build on the success we’ve seen in Virginia by protecting veterans and low-income families across the country from discrimination and helping more Americans access housing.”

Federal housing vouchers help 2.3 million veterans and low-income households live in decent, stable private-market housing. However, landlords can reject these vouchers in states and cities where there are no source-of-income protections. Fair housing complaints have remained steady over the years, with nearly 29,000 complaints in 2020. People of color, particularly Black women, are disproportionately affected and more likely than any other group to be evicted or denied housing. 

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. The Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2022 would add source of income, veteran status, and military status to the list of protected classes. It would prohibit landlords from denying housing to individuals who use Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8), HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers, benefits received through Social Security programs, income received by a court order, payment from a trust or guardian, or any other lawful source of income. 

Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by U.S. Representative Scott Peters (D-Calif.). 

The bill text is available HERE.

The bill is supported by: A Way Home America, American Bar Association, Autistic Self Advocacy Center, Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network, Catholic Charities, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Coalition on Human Needs, Community Change Action, Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, Council of State Community Development Agencies, The Corporation for Supportive Housing, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, Enterprise Community Partners, Funders Together to End Homelessness, Grounded Solutions Network, Hispanic Federation, LeadingAge, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Low-Income Investment Fund, National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations, National Alliance to End Homelessness, National Association for County Community and Economic Development, National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders, National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies, National CAPACD, National Center for Housing & Child Welfare, National Coalition for the Homeless, National Community Action Partnership, National Community Development Association, National Consumer Law Center, National Health Care for the Homeless Council, National Housing Law Project, National Housing Resource Center, National Housing Trust, National Low Income Housing Coalition, National NeighborWorks Association, National Women's Law Center, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Opportunity Starts at Home campaign, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Poverty & Race Research Action Council, Prosperity Now, Public Housing Authorities Directors Association, Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future, StriveTogether, Technical Assistance Collaborative, The Kelsey, True Colors United, Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals, Virginia Housing Alliance, Virginia Poverty Law Center, and Up for Growth Action.