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Proposed City Council Legislation to Broaden Section 8 Housing Opportunities

A new piece of legislation up before City Council could change the way landlords in Rochester deal with Section 8 or Department of Social Services (DSS) tenant applications.

Councilman Adam McFadden wants to make it illegal within the city to refuse housing based on a person’s source of income, such as public assistance funds. The proposed legislation would also make it unlawful to advertise spaces with discriminatory language against DSS or Section 8 recipients.

“My mother was a Section 8 recipient and it allowed her to move us out of a gang infested neighborhood, and to a neighborhood that was better for me and my brother,” McFadden told 13 WHAM. “So I’m a true believer of allowing people to move into areas of opportunity.”

McFadden pushed for a similar measure last October, but it failed to gain momentum within the City Council. This year, he has the official support of Mayor Lovely Warren behind him.

“In order for our residents to secure jobs and quality educational opportunities, they first need a safe and stable place to call home,” Warren said in a statement. “I’m happy to join with Councilman McFadden in support of this legislation that, if approved, will expand housing options, and improve the quality of life, for many of our residents in the city of Rochester.”

McFadden argues that current exclusionary policies keep public assistance recipients confined to impoverished neighborhoods, when the goal of Section 8 and other supplemental housing measures is to allow for mobility. Other types of assistance include FHA 203K loans, which allow for down payments of a minimal 3.5%.

If approved, the new legislation would still allow property owners to refuse housing based on a tenant’s insufficient income, but not based on where that income comes from.

The Rochester Housing Authority’s executive director Shawn Burr also supports the measure. “We believe that housing opportunities should be available to all, regardless of source of income, race, national origin, sex, religion, family status or disability,” he said in a statement. “If passed, this amendment will help cultivate a more dynamic, economically sustainable community where everyone can thrive.”