April is National Fair Housing Month. Housing is a basic need for all, yet safe, affordable housing remains out of reach for many. Tenants who rely on lawful non-employment income (such as rental assistance, social security or child support) face even greater challenges.
A recent SouthCoast Fair Housing study found widespread discrimination against low-income families who rely on Housing Choice Vouchers in Rhode Island, a problem exacerbated in Providence, where one third of voucher-holding families live. While voucher-holding families can afford more than a third of rental units available statewide, they are ultimately shut out from 93% of those opportunities solely because landlords refuse to accept their vouchers. Fourteen states, including MA, CT, ME and VT prohibit housing discrimination based on lawful source of income, but the practice remains legal in Rhode Island.
A proud member of the HOMES RI campaign, the Providence Human Relations Commission has worked alongside Mayor Elorza and members of the City Council to codify source of income protections locally, testified in support of House Bill 5137 codifying source of income protections state-wide, and stands in strong support of H5137’s companion bill, Senate Bill 0331.
The Commission urges community members to attend HOMES RI’s 4/23 Advocacy Day, and to consider attending or testifying at the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing of S0331 on Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019 at the rise of the Senate.
The Commission thanks Sen. Metts and co-sponsors for their leadership on this key issue.