Rental property owners remain opposed to bill requiring subsidized housing

(The Center Square) – A number of Illinois housing provider groups are pushing for a “no” vote on legislation that would require landlords to participate in the federal Section 8 housing program by amending the state’s Homeless Prevention Act.

House Bill 2775 is described as a homelessness prevention bill by many Illinois lawmakers, but groups representing landlords, including the Illinois Rental Property Owners Association, have been staunchly opposed to the measure. 

The bill was read before the Senate Executive Committee Wednesday with different housing organizations in attendance to give their thoughts.

Paul Arena, director of legislative affairs for the Illinois Rental Property Owners Association (IRPOA), explained why they are against the legislation.

“Section 8 is designed to be a voluntary program,” Arena said. “This bill requires that you sign a lease with the Housing Authority. That’s their lease and is non-negotiable and that lease has provisions in it that we oppose.”

Committee member and Illinois state Sen. Donald DeWitte, R-St. Charles, said the bill still needs work.

“Realtors do not think that the state should be using our fair housing laws to compel participation in a government program that even many proponents still have issues with,” DeWitte said.

The bill sets provisions that ensure there will be no discrimination based on a renter’s income or source of income. This would then require landlords to take part in the Section 8 housing program.

Landlords that refuse will be hit with severe penalties, according to the IRPOA.

Most of the debate has been about the forced implementation of the Section 8 housing program. Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, said so far the two sides can’t come together due to that issue.

“The opponents are indicating that they like the vast majority of the bill and let’s take care of this one thing, but still we seem to have this fundamental disagreement,” McConchie said.

Arena echoed McConchie’s thoughts on what the disagreement is.

“What we have said is that if they added one sentence to the bill that said ‘nothing here should be construed to require a property owner to sign a non-negotiable contract, addendum, or lease,'” Arena said. “Just that one sentence.”

The bill advanced through the Senate Executive Committee by an 11-6 vote. The Illinois Rental Property Owners Association, Illinois Realtors, and Illinois Manufactured Housing Association are all in opposition to the bill.

In October, advocating for the bill, the group Access Living said the measure is necessary because people are struggling with housing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Renters with nontraditional sources of income have always been unfairly locked out of communities because of discrimination,” the group said in a policy position. “This pandemic has made the issue worse to a point where it cannot be ignored any longer.”


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March 31, 2022 at 06:46AM

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