Dear Members –
You may have seen local news coverage of a North Texas fair housing advocacy group filing fair housing complaints based on owners’ alleged refusal to accept Veterans Affairs Supporting Housing (“VASH”) vouchers. This program combines Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance for homeless Veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
AAGD shares the goal of eliminating veteran homelessness and is very supportive of this program.
In 2015, the Texas Legislature passed Section 250.007 of the Local Government Code, which prohibited cities and counties from adopting ordinances that would have mandated the acceptance of Section 8 vouchers, as Section 8 is a voluntary program. However, that bill also provided that it did not affect an ordinance or regulation that prohibits the refusal to lease or rent a housing accommodation to a military veteran because of the veteran's lawful source of income to pay rent.
The City of Dallas has adopted such an ordinance, and therefore in the City of Dallas an applicant with a VASH voucher cannot be denied solely on the basis that the VASH voucher will be used to pay the rent. VASH voucher holders may use their voucher as part of their income in determining whether they meet the rental criteria for an apartment.
Remember also that although Texas prohibits local source of income ordinances, an individual or advocacy group can always file a complaint on the basis that a particular policy, while neutral on its face, causes a disparate impact on a protected class. Both TAA and AAGD will offer numerous educational opportunities over the next several months which will include this and other fair housing topics