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State Legislature considers bills to ban source-of-income discrimination in housing

red for rent sign in front of house
Adobe Stock
For rent sign

Legislation introduced in the Michigan Senate would ban landlords from discriminating against tenants based on the source of income they use to pay their rent.

Source of income discrimination is already banned in more than a dozen states.

State and federal law protect against discrimination on the basis of, for example, race, national origin, and disability. Source of income is not a protected class under those laws.

Supporters of the legislation said the people most plagued by source-of-income discrimination are people using housing vouchers provided by the federal government.

Democratic State Senator Rosemary Bayer, who sponsors some of the legislation, said that sort of discrimination is illogical. "The sources of income that they're worried about are very reliable; they're actually more reliable than traditional income, earned income, because it's coming from the federal government or the state government.”

Advocates said the problem is widespread. In 2018, the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness said, a survey indicated nearly half of all respondents reported that landlords in their community will not rent to voucher holders.

While several major cities in Michigan like Ann Arbor, Lansing, and Grand Rapids have banned source of income discrimination, the state has not.

The Rental Property Owners Association could not be reached for comment.

Toussaint joined Michigan Radio in June 2022 as a newsroom intern and is currently working in his second summer. He is a senior at Howard University in Washington, D.C., majoring in journalism and minoring in Afro-American Studies.