Tempe City Council Advances Amendment to Protect Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) Holders

The Tempe City Council is taking a significant step to combat housing discrimination by proposing changes to the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance, particularly emphasizing Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs), often referred to as Section 8 vouchers. This proposed amendment aims to eliminate discrimination against individuals and families who rely on HCVs (Section 8) to secure housing. Presently, some landlords refuse to accept these vouchers, creating obstacles for those in need.
 
Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8) are a crucial part of the federal program aimed at helping low-income individuals secure safe and sanitary housing in the private market. Program participants pay 30% of their income as rent, with the government covering the rest. Eligibility hinges on household income, with those earning less than 50% of the area’s median income eligible for assistance.
 
This proposed amendment is part of a larger initiative led by Tempe councilmembers Berdetta Hodge and Randy Keating within the Workforce Readiness and Livable Communities Council (WRLC). The WRLC has actively engaged with residents to understand the potential impact of this amendment on individuals experiencing financial insecurity.
 
Randy Keating, a supporter of the proposed change, emphasized that the new policy would prevent discrimination against people using vouchers, including Section 8 vouchers. The goal is to expand housing options and reduce the stigma associated with voucher use.
 
Tempe’s population growth has created a housing demand that has outstripped supply, causing a shortage. Keating stressed the council’s dedication to addressing this problem and supporting additional housing construction, recognizing it as a supply and demand challenge.
 
Tempe’s average monthly rent is approximately $1900, which restricts housing choices for its residents. Stacey Gandy, a professor at ASU’s School of Social Work, highlighted the societal advantages of assisting vulnerable communities, emphasizing the importance of the “housing first” model and the belief that everyone deserves basic necessities.
 
Odalis Lopez Villegas, a student advocate, hailed the proposed update as a potential life-changer, emphasizing that cities must provide housing security to ensure favorable outcomes. Villegas noted, “It’s important for cities to help residents with housing security to ensure the future prevalence of positive outcomes. When your basic needs are absent, a lot more leaves the equation. (Housing) is critical to move forward.”
 
Residents and stakeholders can offer feedback on the proposed changes to Tempe’s Anti-Discrimination Ordinance until October 1 through an online comment portal. The amendment, primarily concerning Section 8 housing vouchers, has the potential to greatly improve housing accessibility, promoting inclusivity and equity in the community, irrespective of income sources. This represents a significant move in combating housing inequality and discrimination in the city.
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