Two U.S. Senators recently introduced a new federal bill that is being referred to as the “Fair Housing Improvement Act” (FHIA).  The FHIA introduces two additional protected classes to the seven protected classes under the Fair Housing Act of 1968.  

The first proposal would make veterans of wars a new federal protected class.

The second, would make “source of income” a new federal protected class.  If “source of income” becomes a federal protected class then landlords would be unable to deny a rental applicant solely because they receive a Section 8 Rent Assistance Voucher.  “Source of income” would also include HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers, benefits received through Social Security, income received by a court order, payment from a trust or guardian, or any other lawful source of income.

Currently many states and municipalities already have “source of income” protection laws.  Milwaukee County added the class of “receipt of rental or housing assistance” as a protected class in 2018.  The argument being made is that the states and municipalities enforcement or “source of income” discrimination varies widely, and as such “source of income” must become a federal protected class.