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Kaine Introduces Bill To Protect Veterans & Low-Income Families From Housing Discrimination

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) reintroduced the Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2019 to protect veterans and low-income families from housing discrimination. Many veterans and low-income families pay their rent through vouchers, and as the law currently stands, landlords can discriminate against them, denying housing based on how they pay rent. The Fair Housing Improvement Act would expand the Fair Housing Act’s protections to prohibit housing discrimination based on source of income or veteran status, giving more families access to affordable housing and a shot at economic mobility.

“Our nation’s veterans and vulnerable families should have the same right to a home as any other American, regardless of how they pay rent,” said Kaine. “I’ve seen firsthand the impact that discrimination has on a person searching for a home. We can no longer allow these barriers to keep families and veterans from finding a stable place to live. I hope my colleagues will join me in putting an end to this discrimination.”

“I applaud Senator Kaine for introducing this important legislation to help combat housing discrimination, segregation, and inequality,” stated Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “Where you live has an enormous impact on the opportunities you and your children have in life – everything from educational attainment, to lifetime earnings, to better health to life expectancy. For too long, discrimination has prevented low income people from living in neighborhoods of their choice – including communities with jobs that pay decent wages, good schools, healthcare, and transportation – simply because they rely on federal housing benefits to make ends meet. This legislation is an important step towards righting this wrong.”

Congress provides vouchers to help 2.2 million veterans and low-income households live in decent, stable private market housing. Landlords, however, can reject these vouchers and often do in states and cities that allow them, undermining the federal government’s largest rental assistance program.

Kaine introduced an earlier version of this legislation in the previous Congress. Kaine began his career as a lawyer specializing in the representation of people who had been denied housing due to their race, disability, or family status. In 1998, Kaine helped win one of the largest civil rights jury verdicts ever in a case involving discrimination against minority neighborhoods by an insurance company. 

The Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2019 is supported by the Paralyzed Veterans of America, American Bar Association, Housing Opportunities Made Equal Virginia, Inc., National Housing Law Project , National Low Income Housing Coalition, Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals, Virginia Poverty Law Center, Habitat for Humanity, Enterprise Community Partners, Virginia Housing Alliance, Equal Rights Center, and LeadingAge.