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Keyword: discrimination

HOME Act Would End Discrimination Based on the Source of a Renter’s Income

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski today announced his plans to introduce the Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) Act, which would prohibit housing discrimination based on the source of a potential renter’s income, including housing vouchers.

The bill will be introduced in the County Council session scheduled for Monday, October 7.

“We have both a legal and moral obligation to expand access to affordable housing in Baltimore County, and the HOME Act is a critical piece of the puzzle,” Olszewski said. “Discrimination of any kind is wrong, and we have to do everything in our power to expand economic opportunity, improve equity, and eliminate pockets of poverty in our communities.”

Details of the HOME Act

The HOME Act would make it illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent to a potential tenant based on the person’s source of income, just as renters can’t be discriminated against based on their race, sex, religion, and other legally protected groups. Source of income can refer to income from a job, public assistance programs, benefits and considerations (such as an inheritance, a pension, an annuity, etc.) or the sale of a property. Source of income includes participation in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program.

A housing voucher is a source of supplemental income that helps low income residents pay for housing. Recipients are required to pay 30 percent of their income on rent, and the voucher provides a bridge to cover the remaining cost of rent. Across Maryland, nearly 70 percent of HCV recipients are seniors, people with disabilities, or children.

The HCV program is a federal program, and the federal government determines the number of overall vouchers available to each local jurisdiction. Baltimore County distributes approximately 5,000 vouchers. The HOME Act would give them greater flexibility in choosing where to live.

Giving People a Fair Chance

“It’s long past time for Baltimore County to act to protect county residents from housing discrimination,” Councilman Julian Jones said. “This bill gives people with disabilities, veterans and others a fair chance to do what’s best for their families. I applaud the county executive’s leadership on this issue and I’m optimistic that my colleagues will support this important bill.”

“I believe it is important for Baltimore County to address the housing needs of our older adults, veterans, people with disabilities and all families. It is a matter of fairness and dignity,” Councilman Izzy Patoka said.

Montgomery, Howard and Frederick Counties have had laws prohibiting discrimination based on source of income for several years. Anne Arundel County and Baltimore City passed similar legislation earlier this year.

Under the Conciliation and Voluntary Compliance Agreement (VCA) signed in 2016, this legislation must be introduced this calendar year and every calendar year until its passage.

This is one of several actions the county is legally mandated to take under the terms of the VCA, which was conceived as a resolution to federal housing discrimination complaints brought against the county in 2011. These complaints alleged that the discriminatory nature of Baltimore County’s housing and zoning policies over the last several decades had led to significant racial and socioeconomic segregation.

For more information about the HOME Act, please download the HOME Act Fact Sheet (PDF).


County to Follow Constitution and Sound Policing Policy

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz issued the following statement in response to the Immigration Guidance Memorandum that Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh issued today:

"I commend Attorney General Frosh for issuing today's guidance memorandum reinforcing my Executive Order which provides that no County employee, including the police, may discriminate based on anyone's immigration status and that no individual may be detained past their scheduled release date unless a court order so states.

My Executive Order adheres to the Constitution and promotes sound policing practices and I applaud the Attorney General for today's action which supports efforts from jurisdictions like ours to protect our residents."

The complete text of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz’s April 5, 2017 Executive Order is below:

EXECUTIVE ORDER

LAW ENFORCEMENT STANDARDS ON IMMIGRATION STATUS, DIVERSITY AND EQUITY

                WHEREAS, Baltimore County residents fully support our country's rich heritage of welcoming immigrants from around the world who come to America seeking a better life in pursuit of the American Dream; and

                WHEREAS, Baltimore County has welcomed an increasingly diverse population that parallels statewide demographics; and

                WHEREAS, Baltimore County recognizes that public trust and confidence in local government and law enforcement policies are essential to a fair and orderly government; and

                WHEREAS, the Baltimore County Police Department prides itself on the positive relationship that it has maintained with the County’s resident population, including its immigrant community,  and maintenance of positive relationships are key to keeping our neighborhoods safe; and

                WHEREAS, as part of that relationship, all residents must feel safe and secure to cooperate with Baltimore County Police Officers to report crimes and offer assistance in resolving criminal activity; and

                WHEREAS, from time to time it is necessary to reiterate the policies and precepts necessary to maintain public order and discourse, consistent with the laws of the county, state, and federal governments, their respective judicial branch holdings, and the Constitutions of Maryland and the United States.

                NOW, THEREFORE, I, Kevin Kamenetz, as County Executive of Baltimore County, on this 5th day of April 2017, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Baltimore County Charter, do hereby promulgate the following EXECUTIVE ORDER for Baltimore County, Maryland:

                1. No Baltimore County Department, agency, officer or employee shall discriminate against any person within Baltimore County based on confirmed or suspected race, creed, religion, color, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, status as a veteran, physical or mental disability, immigration status, and/or inability to speak English.

                2. No Baltimore County Department, agency, officer or employee shall condition the provision of County services or benefits on the immigration status of the individual seeking those services or benefits unless such conditions are lawfully imposed by federal or state law.

                3. No Baltimore County Police Officer shall make inquiry of a person's immigration status for the purpose of initiating civil enforcement of immigration proceedings, except in the case of a criminal warrant signed by a judicial official.

                4.  No personnel within the Police Department or Department of Corrections shall cause to be detained any individual beyond their court ordered release date, except upon reasonable belief of the existence of an order of detainer issued by a properly recognized judicial official.

                5. Nothing in this Executive Order shall be construed to prohibit any Baltimore County Police Officer or employee from participating in task force activities with county, state or federal criminal law enforcement authorities.

                6. Nothing in this Executive Order shall be construed to prohibit any Baltimore County Police Officer from investigating violations of criminal law.

                7. Nothing in this Executive Order shall be construed to prohibit any Baltimore County Police Officer from cooperating with federal immigration authorities in the investigation and apprehension of undocumented immigrants suspected of criminal activity.

                8. This Executive Order shall take effect immediately according to its terms.


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017