Source of Income Protections for Housing Choice Voucher Holders

 
What is Source of Income (SOI) Discrimination?

Refusing to accept housing vouchers to pay rent, and other policies that disadvantage otherwise qualified voucher-holders, can constitute “source of income discrimination.” Disadvantaging voucher holders can occur through practices such as requiring additional references, imposing additional or unreasonable screening criteria, requiring a larger security deposit, or imposing other additional fees or penalties. It can also include ignoring voucher payments when determining if an applicant has enough income to afford the unit.

Discrimination against voucher holders prevents the HCV program from achieving its goal to allow voucher holders to have choice in where to live, including in including in well-resourced areas of opportunity, and may also violate Federal fair housing and civil rights laws by discriminating because of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, familial status, or sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation).  HUD encourages PHAs to work with local landlords to help them understand applicable laws, refer SOI discrimination cases to local legal assistance or fair housing organizations, and inform tenants of their rights.

Depending on where you live in the country, state and local governments may have SOI antidiscrimination laws making it illegal to refuse to rent to, or otherwise disadvantage, tenants who pay rent with housing vouchers and other types of housing assistance.

Where do SOI Protections already exist?

Below is a map of jurisdictions that have laws barring Source of Income Discrimination. HUD is only including jurisdictions which include protections for vouchers holders in their SOI antidiscrimination laws. We recognize that state and local laws governing SOI protections may change over time and our map may not contain the most up-to-date information. Users should consult with their local fair housing organizations or responsible enforcement agencies to determine the current status of state and local laws. If your locality has source of income protections and is not included on this map please contact HCVutilization@hud.gov.

 

State and Local Governments with SOI Protections

Footnotes and citations for data sources used in this map can be found here.

Note: This map reflects a point in time using the best available data. Before using this data, users should confirm whether their local laws do or do not prohibit SOI discrimination. 

 

All properties financed with Low Income Housing Tax Credits are required to accept vouchers as a source of income.

Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) properties are expressly prohibited from discriminating against voucher holders. Owners are required to certify every year that they are adhering to that requirement. State housing agencies are responsible for monitoring LIHTC property owners for compliance. 

Find LIHTC properties using HUD’s resource locator

Note that properties financed with funding from HUD’s HOME program are also prohibited from discriminating against voucher holders.

I am a tenant facing SOI discrimination, what should I do?
  • Know your Rights. Understand what source of income discrimination looks and sounds like. Check to see if your State or local government has source of income antidiscrimination laws. Even if no source of income antidiscrimination law applies, you have rights under the Fair Housing Act if you were discriminated against because of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, familial status, or sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation) – for example if the landlord said it was because of your source of income but really you were denied for one of these reasons.  
  • Notify your PHA. Inform your PHA if you believe you have faced discrimination. Your PHA may be able to work with the landlord to resolve the issue or help you file a compliant.
  • File a Complaint. Reach out to your local housing authority, fair housing organization, or legal aid if you feel that you have faced source of income discrimination. If you believe you were discriminated against under the Fair Housing Act, you can file a complaint with HUD’s office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity or with a Fair Housing Assistance Program Agency (FHAP) if one exists in your area.

Reach out to a fair housing organization in your area to see who might be able to help. Contact a Fair Housing Assistance Program Agency (FHAP) or an organization that participates in HUD's Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP). Both organizations may be able to speak to a housing provider on your behalf, conduct an investigation, including testing, to help determine if you experienced discrimination, or otherwise provide you with information and assistance.

Search for a local FHAP here or a local FHIP here.

I am a PHA, what can I do to protect HCV tenants from SOI discrimination?

Some State and local governments have passed laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of source of income, but others have not. In order to assist HCV holders, PHAs can ensure their HCV programs are well managed, owners are satisfied with the program, and tenants are informed of their fair housing rights. Regardless of whether SOI discrimination is illegal in the area PHAs can assist voucher holders doing the following:

  • Provide Information. During HCV briefings, provide information on who tenants can contact regarding source of income discrimination. If a form exists, include a State or local SOI discrimination complaint form in the HCV briefing packet.
  • Act on Complaints. When informed of a SOI discrimination complaint by a voucher holder, PHAs may actively work with landlords to resolve the issue before issuing a fair housing referral. If unable resolve, refer voucher holder to a local fair housing or legal assistance organization.
  • Educate Owners. PHAs may educate owners on local and State SOI protection laws and help dispel myths perpetuated about the HCV program and tenants.
  • Improve Relationships With Landlords. PHAs may find resources for PHAs to Improve HCV Landlord Participation here.
  • Track and Refer Complaints. PHAs may create internal processes to track complaints and monitor for patterns of discrimination. PHAs may work with local or State fair housing organizations for possible testing.
Local Campaigns

Source of income anti-discrimination laws and public campaigns are an important tool to protect and improve access to affordable housing.  Source-of-income anti-discrimination laws and other support for voucher holders can also help entities such as states and localities comply with their fair housing and civil rights obligations.  If your State or local government does not have a SOI anti-discrimination law, you may be interested in adopting one.

There are several important considerations when drafting legislation to make an effective SOI protection law including explicitly protecting voucher holders, limiting exemptions, creating strong enforcement mechanisms, and promoting education through public campaigns. Please note, the following examples and resources are not affiliated with HUD.

For more best practices, please see the following materials:

An example poster with the text "Vouchers pay. Descrimination doesn't."

Public Campaigns

In addition to local laws, public campaigns to raise awareness of SOID can also help voucher holders. For example, New York City’s Campaign on Source of Income Discrimination provides social media graphics, fact sheets, FAQs, and an online discrimination reporting form to make reporting simple.

The U.S. government neither endorses nor guarantees in any way the external organizations, services, advice, or products included in these website links. Furthermore, the U.S. government neither controls nor guarantees the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of the information contained in non-government website links.