On November 4, the Baltimore County Council passed the Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) Act which prohibits discrimination based on source of income, making it illegal for landlords to refuse to rent to otherwise qualified tenants who participate in the Housing Choice Voucher Program. The bill passed with one amendment, which exempts landlords who own three or fewer properties if those properties have four or fewer units each.
The Fair Housing Action Center of Maryland (FHAC-MD) thanks Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski for his leadership and commitment to this issue as well as Council members Julian Jones, Izzy Patoka, Cathy Bevins, and Tom Quirk for their support of the HOME Act.
Baltimore County has a legal and a moral obligation to dismantle segregation and increase access to affordable housing. Baltimore County entered into a Voluntary Compliance Agreement (VCA) with HUD after Baltimore Neighborhoods Inc., the ACLU of Maryland, the NAACP, and three County residents successfully challenged the ways in which the County’s housing policies have discriminated against African Americans, families with children, and people with disabilities. As part of this agreement, the County agreed take the necessary steps to remove unjust barriers that prevent people from accessing housing in high-opportunity neighborhoods.
Enabling people to move to high-opportunity communities decreases unemployment and crime, as well as increases the quality of education for children who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend a high-performing public school. Montgomery, Howard, and Frederick Counties implemented source of income protection years ago also have higher median incomes, and higher property values than Baltimore County. Their employment rate among those counties’ residents is also higher.
Baltimore County is the latest jurisdiction to pass Source of Income (SOI) discrimination, joining Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County which banned this unfair practice earlier this year. The movement towards just and equitable housing is growing in Maryland. Baltimore County’s passage of the HOME Act represents a critical step towards creating a more just, dynamic, and prosperous region. FHAC-MD is committed to working in partnership with our local jurisdictions to implement this law.