Gov. Polis signs bill that bans housing discrimination based on source of income

By: - July 14, 2020 5:22 pm

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Gov. Jared Polis signed into law on Tuesday afternoon a bill that bans housing discrimination based on a tenant’s source of income.

Under the new state law, House Bill 20-1332, landlords are prohibited from refusing to rent or lease an apartment based on a person’s source of income or if the individual uses housing subsidies to pay their rent. A landlord is still allowed to conduct credit checks of prospective tenants.

“Income is income from a landlord’s perspective,” Polis said at the bill signing ceremony at History Colorado in Denver. “And yet in our state, working families are often turned away from housing just because the landlord may not like where the source of that income is coming from.”

The governor said that due to the sharp economic downturn spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, many more Coloradans are relying on federal and local rental subsidies to remain in their housing situations. 

“We have to make sure that those families that rely on those aren’t turned away because of the source of their income,” Polis said.

Federal protections from the Fair Housing Act, enacted in 1968, include protected classes of race, disability, religion, color, familial status, sex, ancestry, sexual orientation, creed/belief system and marital status, according to the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies.

State Rep. Leslie Herod, from Colorado’s 8th District.

“This is the third year we’ve been working on this bill to ban source of income discrimination once and for all,” said Rep. Leslie Herod, a Denver Democrat who co-sponsored the bill with Democratic lawmakers Rep. Dominique Jackson and Sen. Rhonda Fields. 

Herod said she started working on the bill because too many individuals — people transitioning from the prison system or aging out of the foster care system, for example — were being turned away by landlords. “(The people) who work so hard to get vouchers, only to be told, ‘We don’t accept that here. We don’t want your money. It’s not good enough here.’”

The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies will receive an appropriation of $9,641 from the General Fund to implement the law, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

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Moe Clark
Moe Clark

Moe Clark is a freelance journalist and former Colorado Newsline reporter who covered criminal justice, housing, homelessness and other social issues.