CityLab: The legal housing discrimination that keeps Texas segregated

CityLab, November 19, 2018: The legal housing discrimination that keeps Texas segregated 

Thanks to a recent state law, Texas has become one of the least accommodating states for Section 8 voucher-holders.

While states and cities across the U.S. have outlawed discrimination against voucher-holders, Texas is one of just two states that’s done the opposite. In 2015, Texas passed a law that ensured landlords cannot be punished for discriminating against families with vouchers.

The law essentially legalized a long-standing practice among landlords that blocked voucher holders, who are overwhelmingly black and Hispanic, from moving to better neighborhoods. And nowhere is more emblematic of that than Houston, the state’s largest city, where one in four families who receive housing assistance never gets to use it because they can’t find a landlord to accept their voucher.

Texas Tribune analysis found that the majority of Houston families who successfully use their voucher end up living in deeply impoverished neighborhoods. About 90 percent of them are black.

t’s illegal under federal fair housing law to refuse to rent to someone on the basis of their race. In several states and large cities throughout the country, it’s also illegal to turn someone away merely because they have a housing choice voucher. But that’s not the case anywhere in Texas, thanks to the 2015 state law.

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