Ending “housing discrimination” against holders of Section 8 rent assistance may sound like a worthy goal, but not all ways of expanding their living options are fair. Oregon House Bill 2639 is one such deeply flawed method.
On the surface the law seems reasonable: It requires landlords to consider applications from Section 8 voucher holders, but it does not give special preference to such renters. However, the catch is that any landlord who accepts Section 8 voucher payments must have the building undergo inspection, and it must meet certain marketplace standards. This may be fine when landlords’ participation in Section 8 is voluntary; but is it fair to place these requirements on all landlords?
Meeting these standards takes time and money. No one benefits from landlords having to consider renters whom they then have to accommodate differently from other people. The landlord loses money by having to bring the building up to these standards.
Ending discrimination is one thing. It’s another to saddle Oregon landlords with the burdensome requirements that come with House Bill 2639.
Doug DeFilipps is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute. He is a graduate of Santa Clara University.