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Griggs: Dallas Will Consider Requiring Landlords To Accept Public Housing Vouchers

Shelley Kofler
Federal housing subsidies helped replace older, low-income apartments at the Wynnewood complex in South Dallas with new affordable units.

The city of Dallas and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have settled a complaint that involved the city’s use of incentives for locating low-income housing.

The agreement makes sure Dallas won’t lose millions of dollars from penalties and federal housing subsidies. But there’s a tradeoff: It requires the city to consider an option guaranteed to anger some neighborhoods and landlords.

Currently in Dallas, landlords can refuse to lease to public housing clients who use Section 8 vouchers to pay the rent. But that could change, says Dallas City Council member Scott Griggs, who's vice chairman of the city’s housing committee.

The city’s agreement with HUD requires council members to consider an ordinance that would prohibit any landlord from rejecting tenants based on the source of their income.

“If this passes, a landlord cannot discriminate against an individual, a family or anyone, if their source of income is a housing choice voucher, which is commonly known as a Section 8 voucher,” Griggs said.

Griggs says current city policies have resulted in most low- and affordable-income housing being located in South Dallas. HUD officials want the units more evenly located across the city.

“Regardless of your financial means, you need to have choices in this city on where to live,” Griggs said.  “You need to have choices that place you closer to the schools you want to go to. You need to have housing choices that place you closer to jobs.”

Griggs expects opposition from some landlords who don’t want to rent to public housing clients and from some members of the public. 

He said council members will consider the measure early next year. If they reject it, HUD will require them to adopt other strategies to locate affordable housing throughout Dallas.

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.