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Charlotte City Council bans 'source of income discrimination' for renters

City Council voted 9-2 to prevent discrimination based on source of income in complexes that have received city funding.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The push to create more affordable housing was on the table at Monday's Charlotte City Council meeting, as leaders discussed plans to make Charlotte the first North Carolina city to pass certain renter protections and ban "source of income discrimination." 

Editor's note: The attached video aired prior to the city council vote.

City Council voted 9-2 to prevent discrimination based on source of income in complexes that have received city funding. This includes market-rate housing that receives tax Increment Grants. The two no votes were from councilmembers Tariq Bokhari and Ed Driggs.

Some developers in Charlotte could be fined hundreds of dollars for refusing to rent to voucher holders. The policy says developers or housing providers who deny renters trying to use the vouchers, known as Section 8 vouchers, could receive a warning or fines. These vouchers provide a federally-funded subsidy to assist the tenant in making rent payments.

“There’s a big need and a long waitlist for people who don’t have housing that have Section 8," community organizer for Action NC, Jessica Moreno said prior to the vote.

Moreno said denial of housing vouchers happens all too often. 

“They’re approved for Section 8, but they can’t find housing because landlords don’t accept Section 8, so I think this is a move in the right direction,” Moreno said.   

While advocates say it's a move in the right direction, it's not a silver bullet. 

Moreno said sometimes people with government-issued vouchers can be discriminated against. 

“There’s a stigma attached to it," Moreno said. “Primarily the folks that need affordable housing are Black and brown. They find if Section 8 moves into their neighborhood, it’s going to be a bad thing and that’s just not true, we all deserve housing regardless of our race."

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The new policy would only apply to landlords and developers who receive city subsidies for their properties. 

The policy applies to affordable housing and market-rate housing that received city infrastructure reimbursement incents, tax increment grants or capital-funded partnerships. 

Charlotte is the first city in North Carolina to pass such protections and ban "source of income discrimination" for renters. The term refers to renters who are denied a property when landlords set different application terms, deny applications or refuse to show a home to these tenants. 

The policy won't apply to city rezoning requests or housing that doesn't receive subsidies from Charlotte. The city will enforce this policy by reviewing complaints. After three violations, which can include written notices or fees, Charlotte could pull funds from the property. 

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