San Jose’s District 3 councilman, Raul Peralez has authored a proposal to prevent section 8 renters discrimination. The City of San Jose has provided a number of housing vouchers to homeless individuals that used to live in the “Jungle”, a huge homeless encampment on Story Road. Even though the vouchers are enough to cover the rent, many of those with vouchers found landlords were only accepting tenants paying cash. San Jose’s average rental cost increased by 11% in 2014 to $2,230, with 96.5% of all rental units filled. With such tight competition for rental units, landlords often prefer to take cash paying tenants over section 8 tenants. The result is discrimination against homeless tenants.
The City of San Jose estimates that workers need to earn at least $31.70 per hour to afford rent in San Jose, three times city’s minimum wage. That leaves more than 50,000 renter households classified as facing unaffordable rents.
Peralez’s memo suggests that the San Jose City Manager study three forms of tenant protection over the next six months, with the goal of implementing the protections by 2017.
- Prohibition Against Discrimination Based on Source of Income (outlawing Section 8 voucher discrimination)
- Rental Rights and Referrals Program (analyzing current city law, which allows tenants to be evicted without cause)
- Rent Control Modification (annual rent increases cannot exceed 4% for units built before 1995)
Approximately 70 homeless residents from the Story Road encampment who were provided housing vouchers by the City of San Jose are still unable to find a place to live. The California source of income discrimination law does not protect Section 8 voucher tenants. However, the law is supplemented by ordinances in several California cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, East Palo Alto, Corte Madera, and Woodland, which do bar voucher discrimination. Legislation at the local level can remedy this problem by prohibiting discrimination by source of income.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo authored a followup memo that called for investigating other possibilities for housing homeless individuals.
Report to Council the status of several shorter-term initiatives to address the homelessness crisis, including microhousing/tiny homes, safe parking sites, motel conversions, and a Downtown “Connections” homeless center. Any other initiatives that can be implemented within the next 18 months should also be brought forward for consideration.