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Fair Housing — A New Source of Income Protection

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (Cal. Gov. Code §12955, et seq.) prohibits discrimination based on source of income.

However, its definition of source of income does not include Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers and other rental assistance.

In July 2018, the San Diego City Council amended the Municipal Code to add a Source of Income Ordinance (SOI), which includes Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance as a protected source of income.

Effective August 1, 2019, landlords with rental properties in the City of San Diego cannot decline a tenant based only on the household receiving rental assistance from a government or nonprofit administered program.

What Kind of Rental Assistance is Covered under San Diego’s New Protection?

The Municipal Code states:

Source of income means all lawful, verifiable sources of income, or rental assistance from any federal, state, local, or nonprofit-administered benefit or subsidy program, or any financial aid from any rental assistance program, homeless assistance program, security deposit assistance program, or housing subsidy program, whether paid directly to the program participant, landlord, or representative of either.

This includes Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers; non-profit rental subsidies issued by organizations such as those assisting Veterans, seniors, and individuals experiencing homelessness or with disabilities; and security deposit assistance programs.

What Does it Mean for Housing Providers?

Housing providers are no longer allowed to state a preference for tenants without a housing subsidy.

Nor may housing providers treat tenants who receive rental assistance different than those who do not receive assistance.

Pending State Legislation

In addition to San Diego’s local ordinance, California’s state legislature is considering a bill that would create statewide source of income protection.

SB 329 (Mitchell) would add to the list of protected sources of income the following: income paid directly to a landlord by a federal, state or local housing assistance program, including the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program. The bill passed in the Senate and is currently being considered in the Assembly.

For More Information please call: The Legal Aid Society of San Diego, Inc.

Source of Income Hotline: (833) 801-4420

TTY (877) 734-2929 / [email protected]

For more information visit

The Legal Aid Society of San Diego Inc. offices are accessible to persons with disabilities.

1 comment

JT Denver June 14, 2019 at 6:05 am

State and local governments cannot mandate a landlord participate in a VOLUNTARY government program. Two states have already found these laws concerning Section 8 unconstitutional, TX and PA. There are a dozen other lawsuits in as many states making their way through the courts on this same matter. At some point, one of these cases will go to SCOTUS, and given the court’s current makeup, it will be found unconstitutional and all of these laws, foolishly passed by state and local governments, will be have to be rescinded or Section 8 taken out of the law.

Section 8 has always been a VOLUNTARY program that a landlord could choose to particiapte in IF they want to. State and local governments cannot pass a law that requires a private person participate in a federal program that is VOLUNTARY, its that simple. Millions of dollars will go, and have gone, into the pockets of lawyers who are representing both sides in these lawsuits, and not one unit of housing is created, not one. Talk about penny wise and pound foolish.

If the state and local government took those millions of dollars (of taxpayer money) going into their lawyers pockets, and used it to build project based Section 8 housing, you would actually see units being built. But politicians, want it to look like they are doing something, without actually doing anything about housing and they are passing laws they know nothing about, based on bad advise from their attorneys. It amazes me how many bad lawyers these cities have who don’t understand this issue. It’s all political theater, and landlords can still easily get around these worthless laws.

Landlords will simply stop advertising their rentals and find market rate tenants through their social and business contacts. They will raise their rents above the HUD caps so that their units become ineligible for the program altogether. This creates an underground rental culture where rentals won’t be put on the open market but leased through private, unadvertised deals so that landlords don’t have to deal with Section 8.

There are many reasons landords don’t participate and most of those are caused by HUD itself. Now with funding not a guarantee under Trump, and with new restrictive rules coming out from HUD concerning immigration status and ICE showing up at suspected rentals looking for undocumented people, they don’t want to be part of that, who can blame them.

I know dozens of landords who have just sold their rental properties and said screw it. They sell to big corporations who then kick out whomever is living there, do massive renovations and up the rent thousands of dollars. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

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