Baltimore County Council Defeats Anti-Discrimination Housing Bill

The Baltimore County Council defeated a bill on Monday that would have barred landlords from discriminating against potential tenants who use government housing vouchers. The bill was rejected on a 6-1 vote. County Councilman Julian Jones was the lone vote in favor of the measure.

From The Baltimore Sun,

The council was required to consider the bill as part of a settlement of a housing discrimination complaint negotiated between the county government and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Members voted 6-1 against it.

The bill spurred impassioned debate when it was introduced last month. Hundreds of people attended a public hearing, with dozens testifying on each side of the issue.

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who introduced the bill — as required by the settlement — said he was disappointed it did not pass, but “encouraged by the incredible support” the measure received.

“The discussion that took place really helped educate the public as to why such legislation is good public policy,” Kamenetz said in a statement. “The deconcentration of poverty remains a very important goal, and one to which I remain committed.”

The bill would have prohibited housing discrimination based on a tenant’s source of income. The goal was to protect tenants who rely on government assistance such as Housing Choice Vouchers, commonly called Section 8.

Similar laws are in place in Howard, Montgomery and Frederick counties. Efforts to pass a statewide law have been unsuccessful.

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