Source of Income Discrimination and Protections

Federal law (see relevant statutes, regulations, and executive orders) prohibits discrimination in a variety of housing-related activities. HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity provides an overview of Fair Housing Act protections here. Protected classes include race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, familial status, and national origin, but not lawful source of income

Employment, veterans’ benefits, Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability Insurance, spousal or child support, and rental assistance like the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) all fall within “source of income.” HCV participants regularly experience discrimination that presents challenges to lease-up and stability in the voucher program overall, and in particular in low-poverty neighborhoods. a growing number of jurisdictions have adopted source of income (SOI) anti-discrimination laws, which are beginning to show positive impacts for HCV participants. See the State and Local Source-of-Income Nondiscrimination Laws: Protections that Expand Housing Choice and Access report from the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, most recently updated in March 2024, for a list of relevant laws and many other resources on SOI discrimination and protection.

Building on earlier findings, researchers from the NYU Furman Center and the Urban Institute, respectively, have recently shown that:

1) In locations where SOI protections have been implemented, HCV participants that move end up in neighborhoods with lower poverty rates and smaller proportions of HCV participants. Read Advancing Choice in the Housing Choice Voucher Program: Source of Income Protections and Locational Outcomes, May 2022.

2) Once SOI protections take effect, it takes four to eight years, but the share of HCV-participating families with children that move to low-poverty neighborhoods eventually increases by about 3%. Read Source of Income Protections and Access to Low-Poverty Neighborhoods, October 2022.

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“I learned the exact words to say to a realtor when looking for a place as far as how to incorporate that I have a Housing Choice Voucher, and to present myself as a confident, educated tenant.”

Housing Mobility Participant
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“The mobility program, I truly believe was a godsend. What I mean in saying that is that I now had support, educated support. The organization was able to not only help me to find housing, but also to educate me on how to self-advocate.”

Housing Mobility Participant
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“It has been a blessing that the program helped me and my family out with a better community and helped with rent and a great start. Thanks to the program I feel less stress, relief.”

Housing Mobility Participant

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