Source of Income Discrimination
A growing number of Rhode Islanders are paying more than they can afford for housing
- Rhode Island has a shortage of decent, affordable housing, and many families struggle to find housing they can afford in safe, stable neighborhoods.
- From 2000 to 2014, the number of cost burdened households in RI grew by 31%.
- In 2015, half of all renters in Rhode Island were housing cost burdened (paying more than 30% of their income on housing).
- According to HousingWorks RI’s Fact book, a household earning the state’s median renter household income of $30,934 could not affordably rent the average 2- bedroom apartment in any Rhode Island community.
- The problem of finding housing can be even more difficult for families who pay part or all of their rent with income derived from sources other than employment, such as state or federal housing assistance, social security or other lawful sources of income.
- One example is the federal Housing Choice Voucher Program, formally known as the Section 8 program. This program pays the difference between what program participants can afford to pay (30% of their income) and the cost of housing. About 9,300 Rhode Island households receive rental assistance through this program, many of whom waited years to receive that assistance. Landlords’ refusal to accept tenants using these vouchers is one of the primary reasons participating families give for why they need more time to find an apartment, or are unable to find housing at all, forcing them to turn back their voucher. It is very common to see apartment listings on Craigslist, that state “No Section 8”.
- Every renter should be given an equal opportunity to apply for housing and be evaluated on their own merits.
- 14 states, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Maine, have enacted laws prohibiting discrimination based on source of income. Over 60 counties and municipalities have adopted similar local ordinances.
- It’s time Rhode Island provided the same protections for our renters.