Judge Delays Austin Section 8 Mandate
UPDATE: On Feb. 27, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks denied the Austin Apartment Association's request for an injunction against the SOI ordinance. Judge Sparks rejected the Association's central claims: that the ordinance is preempted by state and federal housing law, that it unconstitutionally burdens the freedom to contract, and that it amounts to a violation of due process. Though the ruling was a surprise, the Association moved swiftly to file an emergency appeal with the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The 5th Circuit granted an injunction blocking enforcement of the ordinance March 6. (Sources: AAA, Austin Statesman - 3/9/15)
AUSTIN, Texas – Austin's source of income ordinance, which would force property owners to participate in a voluntary housing voucher program for low-income tenants, is on hold pending a decision by U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks. The Austin Apartment Association (AAA) requested a preliminary injunction to stop enforcement of the new law, which was initially meant to take effect Jan. 12. After a late January hearing, the judge is expected to make a decision mid-February.
As previously reported in the Nov. 24 Apartment Advocate, the new rules would require participation in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly referred to as the Section 8 program, forcing property owners to accept housing vouchers as a form of payment provided a resident meets other rental criteria. AAA opposed the program for the additional administrative and regulatory burdens it created, as well as the challenges imposed on owners with no affordable housing experience. The ordinance passed the city council in early December.
In an announcement, AAA President Robbie Robinson said "Our opposition to this ordinance is not the source of the residents’ rent but rather the almost 400 pages of rules and regulations — as well as the four-page, single-spaced, government-mandated lease amendment — that are required for an apartment community to participate in the Section 8 program.”
The ordinance was proposed to address the lack of affordable housing in the Austin area. To date, no studies exist to support that this strategy has a positive impact on either housing affordability or availability.
Source: Austin Business Journal, Austin Apartment Association, National Apartment Association