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Press Releases - County Council

Legislation combating housing discrimination to be introduced by Councilmembers Evan Glass and Sidney Katz

For Immediate Release: Monday, December 7, 2020

Rockville, Md., Dec. 7, 2020—On Tuesday, Councilmembers Evan Glass and Sidney Katz will introduce the Housing Justice Act, legislation to strengthen Montgomery County’s housing discrimination laws and commitment to racial equity and social justice. This legislation limits inquiries into certain types of arrests and convictions in rental housing applications and requires increased transparency during the credit check process. Councilmembers Will Jawando, Craig Rice, Nancy Navarro and Hans Riemer are cosponsors.

“More than seventy percent of residents experiencing homelessness are Black, a statistic that has only worsened since the start of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Councilmember Evan Glass, the Council’s Lead for Homelessness and Vulnerable Communities. “The health and economic crises have exacerbated the need for more affordable housing and have highlighted the inequities that exist within our current housing system. Residents who were formerly homeless often experience hurdles due to policies that were originally designed to sustain racist housing practices. The Housing Justice Act will ensure that residents who have been arrested for minor offenses or completed their sentence are not discriminated against by their past actions. I am proud to partner with Councilmember Sidney Katz and to have the support of community groups who work with vulnerable communities.”

“Montgomery County residents exiting homelessness often face discriminatory housing practices rooted in systemic racism,” said Councilmember Sidney Katz. “The Housing Justice Act equalizes the power differential between landlords and prospective tenants, ensuring clarity and transparency of rental application requirements. It also acknowledges the need to more deeply understand an individual’s experiences and humanity. Thank you to Councilmember Evan Glass, Council staff, and the many public and private stakeholders who contributed to the introduction of this important legislation.”

The Housing Justice Act will require landlords to include any criminal and credit history requirements on their rental applications; prohibit inquiries or consideration of certain arrests and convictions in rental housing decisions; and determine rents based on market demands, not source of income or other discriminatory factors.

Existing fair housing legislation does not compel landlords to list offenses considered in the rental decision, credit history requirements, and rent fees on their lease applications. In addition, landlords are not mandated to explain why a rental application is denied. This lack of transparency can mask discrimination based upon race and ethnicity, source of income, and criminal history resulting from life-sustaining activities undertaken during periods of homelessness.



Release ID: 20-481
Media Contact: Valeria Carranza 240-257-6198, Lisa Mandel-Trupp 240-777-7812