Governor Dan McKee, joined by House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio and legislative sponsors, today signed into law the Fair Housing Practices Act (S-0561, H-5257) which prohibits housing discrimination against renters based on their source of income.
“For far too long, residents and families across Rhode Island have been discriminated against because of their source of income – it’s wrong, and it’s time we put an end to it,” said Governor McKee in a statement. “April is Fair Housing Month and I am glad to sign this bill into law, opening the door to renters around the state to have a fairer, more equitable chance at finding a place to call home. I thank all the legislators and advocates who worked incredibly hard to address this crucial issue head on.”
According to the Governor’s office, the Fair Housing Practices Act amends the state’s fair housing laws to add “lawful source of income” to the list of statuses that landlords may not use as a basis for their decisions about who they will rent to. The legislation will prohibit landlords from refusing to rent to individuals because they receive government housing vouchers.
“These are good people who simply want to live and contribute to our society and for them to be denied housing because they receive financial help from the government is a gross injustice and should not be encouraged and condoned. After introducing this legislation for many years, I am grateful that it has finally passed and that it will provide the support that too many of our residents desperately need to find appropriate housing for themselves and their families,” said Rep. Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence), House bill sponsor in a statment.
“With this legislation, Rhode Island is finally recognizing that refusing to rent to people with housing vouchers is discrimination, a pretext for keeping certain people out of certain areas. At this time, when our state is struggling with a housing crisis made worse by the pandemic, I am pleased that we are finally ending this practice. Income discrimination is unjust; it is a roadblock that hurts families, contributes to housing insecurity, and perpetuates poverty. Ensuring that voucher recipients can rent any apartment they can afford will allow more people to rent safe housing and contribute to the stability that all families need and deserve,” said Sen. Meghan E. Kallman (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence), Senate bill sponsor in a statement.
Fifteen states and Washington D.C., plus 99 counties and municipalities, have enacted laws prohibiting discrimination based on source of income, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont.