New Texas Law Preempts Local Section 8 Mandates
AUSTIN, Texas – A new law signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will prevent Texas cities from enacting local ordinances that require rental property owners to take tenants regardless of their source of income. The city of Austin passed such an ordinance last year, effectively making participation in the federal Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) mandatory by making source of income a protected class.
Touted as a way to expand access to affordable housing, the ordinance was challenged by groups including the Austin and Texas Apartment Associations (TAA). TAA strongly supported the legislation, which also prevents Austin from enforcing its mandatory Section 8 ordinance.
According to the bill, municipalities may establish incentive or voluntary programs that encourage property owners to accept federal housing vouchers. The bill contains one exception specific to military veterans. Participants in the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program may not be denied rental housing on the grounds of source of income.
Gov. Abbott signed the bill June 19; the law took effect immediately upon his signature. Currently, 11 states, the District of Columbia and at least 50 localities prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of source of income.
Sources: Texas Apartment Association, Austin Apartment Association, Texas Legislative Council, National Apartment Association