Senator Hill Introduces Legislation to Prohibit Housing Discrimination Against U.S. Armed Forces Veterans and Military Personnel

April 04, 2018

For Immediate Release – Office of State Senator Jerry Hill – Wednesday, April 4, 2018

State Senator Jerry Hill Introduces Legislation to Prohibit Housing Discrimination Against U.S. Armed Forces Veterans and Military Personnel

SACRAMENTO – State Senator Jerry Hill introduced legislation today to prohibit housing discrimination against U.S. military veterans and individuals currently serving in the nation’s armed forces.

“Housing discrimination is simply unacceptable and discriminating against military veterans who have served our country, or current members of the U.S. armed forces, is reprehensible,” said Senator Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties.

U.S. veterans and those currently serving in the armed forces are protected from employment discrimination by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. However, the law does not specifically include veterans or military personnel among those who are protected from housing discrimination.

Senator Hill’s SB 1427 would address that gap by adding the words “veteran and military status” to the civil rights law so that it reads:

“It shall be unlawful for the owner of any housing accommodation to discriminate against or harass any person because of the race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income, disability, veteran or military status, or genetic information of that person.”

In addition, SB 1427 would specify that Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Vouchers, which are issued by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to aid homeless veterans, are a source of income. By doing so, the law would prohibit discrimination against individuals who use the vouchers to pay part or all of their rent.

A sting conducted by the Washington State attorney general’s office earlier this year revealed that several landlords in that state were refusing to rent to veterans who receive the vouchers. A report by NPR on the investigation noted that California was among the states whose laws do not prohibit such discrimination.

Separately, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which enforces the Golden State’s civil rights laws, addressed a discrimination complaint last year involving a Southern California landlord who refused to rent a condo to a U.S. Marine and his family.

“Veterans have given their service to our country and deserve to be treated with respect. The Veterans Legal Institute strongly supports legislation that provides protections to veterans when they seek housing,” said Veterans Legal Institute CEO and co-founder Dwight Stirling. A military veteran, he was an active duty officer with the Judge Advocate General Corps while serving with the California National Guard from 2007 to 2014.

Jesse Creed, the executive director of Vets Advocacy, added: “Our veterans have put life and limb in jeopardy to secure the American Dream. They deserve protection from the unfair stereotypes and prejudices prevalent in the housing market. Such protection would help California fight our homelessness crisis by reducing housing barriers for homeless vets who want to get off the streets and into housing.”

Vets Advocacy is overseeing the restoration of the 388-acre U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ West Los Angeles campus to create 1,200 homes for homeless veterans and a safe, secure, service-rich community.

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Resources:

Fact Sheet:
http://sd13.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd13.senate.ca.gov/files/sb_1427_fact_sheet_as_amended_4-4-2018.pdf

SB 1427:
Until today, SB 1427 was an unrelated bill. It was rewritten to accommodate the legislation prohibiting housing discrimination against veterans and military personnel. The text of the bill will be available at http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/ within 24 hours.

Media Contact: Leslie Guevarra, 415-298-3404, leslie.guevarra@sen.ca.gov