San Diego City Council Member Gómez has introduced an ordinance to prohibit landlords from refusing to rent to tenants because they have Section 8 vouchers. You may read her presentation on the City’s website, and more information is available in the supporting documents section of the Committee Agenda.
This is what Housing Committee Member Steve Dorner had to say in support of the ordinance:
Steve Dorner, member of the NAACP Housing Committee, urges the committee to approve the ordinance prohibiting discrimination against Section 8 voucher holder.
The person you see walking out during Mr Dorner’s remarks is Council Member Lori Zapf, who voted against the ordinance.
Many other people spoke in favor of the ordinance. The San Diego Housing Commission supports it strongly.
Against it were some landlords. Their argument was that the Section 8 process sometimes took 2-4 weeks, which left their unit vacant for that time, and so lost them income.
Given the lopsided market in favor of landlords, the miniscule vacancy rate, and the vicissitudes of a well-functioning housing market, Mr Dorner found it hard to sympathize with people whose main concern was missing a small amount of income on their second (or third, or tenth, or…) home, rather than people looking for a place to live.
Section 8 is intended to serve a purpose beyond mere housing, vital though that is. Section 8 is intended to combat segregation by allowing low-income folks, African-Americans particularly, to live in areas of higher rents and more economic prosperity. It’s been shown that people do better financially if low-income folks aren’t all forced into the same area of town, but instead get to live in prosperous neighborhoods. In the City of San Diego, Section 8 vouchers are used in predominantly minority neighborhoods:
Many people believe that a big part of the resistance to Section 8 is actually based in racial discrimination.
Council Member Alvarez spoke in favor of the ordinance, though he asked the SDHC for more information and encouraged them to make even more effort on behalf of landlords. Member Sherman was not ready to support the ordinance at this time. Member Zapf could see no need at all for the ordinance; perhaps the fact that she asked questions that were plainly answered in the preceding presentations gives a clue as to the source of her difficulty.
In the end, the committee spit 2-2, with Member Alvarez voting with Member Gómez for it, Members Sherman and Zapf opposed. As Member Gómez is Chair of the Committee, it is her prerogative to send the measure to the full council, though without Committee recommendation, and she did so.