Some renters in Charlotte now have new protections

CHARLOTTE — Some renters in Charlotte now have new protections.

The Charlotte City Council voted, 9-2, Monday night to prevent housing discrimination based on a source of income, such as Section 8 vouchers.

This won’t apply to all developments -- only those that have received city funding.

Republicans Tariq Bokhari and Ed Driggs voted no.

City leaders decided to hold off on deciding how the new policy will be enforced.

They will vote on enforcement on August 22.

Before Monday’s vote, landlords could refuse to accept Section 8 vouchers, but that will change for some. Now, any property the city has a hand in would have to accept the vouchers. These include properties that got tax incentives for development, like affordable housing or market-rate housing.

The changes wouldn’t apply to city rezoning requests or housing that does not get city support.

Back in February, Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke spoke with a woman who could benefit from this policy change. At the time, her east Charlotte apartment landlord refused to accept her Section 8 voucher.

“I have called realty companies. I have called more than two dozen apartment complexes. I have been on the phone … This is not a process that I just started yesterday. This has been going on for a year,” Michelle Marshall said in February. “With all the housing that’s being built, why can’t we find affordable housing?”

Stoogenke reported that legally, the landlord didn’t have to accept the voucher. He said many landlords don’t want to deal with the red tape that goes along with accepting Section 8 money -- red tape like government inspections.

But how can the plan be enforced, and what penalties could landlords face if they don’t accept Section 8 vouchers?

Channel 9′s Gina Esposito dug deeper into the city’s proposal for source of income protections. She learned the city will enforce its policy by reviewing complaints. Residents who believe they were denied access to a property due to their source of income would be able to submit a complaint by calling 311. The community relations committee would then investigate.

If the landlord doesn’t comply, after three violations, the city could pull its funds from the property. It could also deny the property from participating in future city contracts.

This proposal was designed to help families get safe, quality and affordable housing.

(WATCH BELOW: West Charlotte motel that helped people find affordable housing has closed)

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