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Attention Housing Providers: Have You Been a Victim of Insurance Discrimination?

Posted on 06. Jul, 2017 by

The Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP), also known as “Section 8”, helps low-income residents across the United States pay for rental housing. Many families and individuals rely on this federal program to subsidize rent in the private housing market (learn more).

Unfortunately, there have been reports of discrimination by insurance companies against housing providers who rent to tenants using the HCVP, or who rent to a high proportion of such tenants.  How do you know if you’ve been a victim of this type of insurance discrimination?  Your insurance company or agent may have asked if you rent to tenants who use vouchers, or what proportion of your tenants use vouchers.  They may have raised your rates, canceled your policy, refused to renew, or even refused to write you a policy in the first place.

While discrimination based on source of income (such as using a voucher rather than other types of income) is not necessarily against federal law, this type of discrimination by insurance providers may still violate the Fair Housing Act if it has an unfair impact based on characteristics that are protected by federal law, such as race, family status and/or disability.

In New Orleans, for example, more than 90% of voucher-holders are Black, and voucher holders are more likely than the population as a whole to have children and to have a family member with a disability.  Such discrimination would have a clear unfair impact on those groups.

This discrimination hurts both housing providers and tenants.  For landlords and housing providers, it can unfairly increase the cost of running their business, or keep them from participating in the program at all.  For tenants, it can reduce the number of places they are able to live, which can in turn reduce their access to quality schools, jobs, transportation, and other essential amenities.

If you think you have been a victim of this type of insurance discrimination, please call the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center at (504) 596-2100.  Help is free and confidential.

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