Protecting Housing Choice Voucher Holders from Discrimination: Lessons from Oregon and Texas

Brief

Protecting Housing Choice Voucher Holders from Discrimination: Lessons from Oregon and Texas

Abstract

In this brief, the researchers examine the role of states in preventing discrimination against renters who participate in the federal Housing Choice Voucher program. The researchers focus on two states—Oregon and Texas—that over the past decade took differing approaches to protections for voucher holders. In 2013, Oregon passed a law that prohibits discrimination against voucher holders statewide; two years later, Texas passed a law that preempts local governments from adopting such protections. Based on a review of public documents and interviews with key stakeholders, the brief describes and compares each state’s motivations in adopting the laws and the ways the laws have affected voucher program administration.

The researchers find that in both states evidence of discrimination against voucher holders sparked state or local action to adopt antidiscrimination protections. Oregon’s success passing a statewide law highlights the importance of dialogue among housing advocates and rental industry stakeholders, and of acknowledging some landlord concerns about the voucher program. And in both states, efforts to innovate voucher program operations in ways that address landlord concerns followed legislative action.

A companion brief, State and Local Voucher Discrimination Laws, documents and describes voucher discrimination laws passed nationally as of December 2019, and introduces a dataset describing the laws.

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