Reynolds Signs Section 8 Discrimination Law
Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law Friday that will allow landlords in three Iowa cities in 2023 to resume rejecting potential tenants because they use federal Section 8 housing vouchers to pay the rent. It also prevents other cities from passing ordinances that would ban discrimination based on a tenant’s receipt of rental assistance.
Republicans in the House and Senate passed the bill in March, more than a month before Reynolds signed it into law.
Des Moines, Iowa City and Marion don’t allow landlords to reject potential tenants just because they use a Section 8 housing voucher to pay the rent. Landlords in those cities can still reject voucher recipients for other reasons like past convictions.
Reynolds' spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon.
During debate in March, Republican lawmakers said landlords should get to choose whether they accept rent payments through the federal program.
“That’s a voluntary program, and we want to make sure that it remains voluntary for property owners and they can decide whether they want to participate or not,” said Rep. Dave Deyoe, R-Nevada.
Democrats said ending these policies will make it harder for veterans, elderly Iowans, and those with disabilities to find a place to live.
“The people who are most vulnerable are relying on us to make sure affordable housing is there for them,” said Rep. Phyllis Thede, D-Bettendorf.
In a subcommittee hearing in February, a Polk County housing official said more than half of the households receiving Section 8 vouchers have a disability, one-fifth are elderly, and more than a third have children.
Some landlords in the U.S. have used housing vouchers as a pretext for racial discrimination in renting, which is illegal.
This new law comes during a legislative session in which Reynolds has proposed a bill that aims to expand affordable housing options in the state. Some Democratic lawmakers said allowing discrimination based on a person’s use of federal rental assistance doesn’t fit with that goal.