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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: October 7, 2022 03:55 PM
From: Senator Katie J. Muth and Sen. Carolyn T. Comitta
To: All Senate members
Subject: End Housing Discrimination Based on Lawful Source of Income
Pennsylvania, like much of the nation, is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis, and this persistent challenge was only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, from 2017 to 2021, the Commonwealth’s median home price increased by 37 percent. Over that same time period, rent in certain parts of the state increased by more than 40 percent.

Moreover, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, in 2022, a Pennsylvania worker earning our state’s paltry minimum wage of $7.25 per hour needs to work 94 hours per week to afford a modest one-bedroom rental or 115 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom. In order to afford to rent the average two-bedroom apartment in the Commonwealth while working a standard 40-hour work week, a worker needs to earn at least $20.90 per hour, nearly triple the state’s current minimum wage.

The difficulty finding affordable housing is compounded by the fact that in most of Pennsylvania, landlords can reject potential tenants based solely upon their source of income, or the way they pay their rent. This includes using housing vouchers, disability benefits, and Social Security, and it disproportionately impacts renters of color, women, and people with disabilities. A 2018 study conducted in Philadelphia by the Urban Institute found that 67 percent of landlords refused to accept housing vouchers, and 83 percent of landlords in the city’s low-poverty neighborhoods refused to accept vouchers. Rejecting potential tenants because they use housing vouchers massively compounds the problem of accessing affordable housing.

We will soon introduce legislation that would prohibit property owners from denying housing to individuals based solely on their lawful source of income, including housing vouchers, pension payments, child support, and public assistance. Numerous states and municipalities have enacted similar laws, including North Dakota, Utah, and Virginia. If a tenant has the financial ability to pay their rent in full and on time, it should not matter how they legally earn the money. Please co-sponsor this legislation to help ensure equal access to safe affordable housing for all Pennsylvania residents.