Minneapolis ordinance would make landlords consider Section 8 renters

Part of Section 8 is under the microscope as the Minneapolis City Council takes up an anti-discrimination ordinance.

It's perfectly legal for landlords to say no to those who are part of the Section 8 housing program, a government funded program that helps low-income residents pay rent.

But, some say that finding housing that takes Section 8 has become so difficult that it's time for a change.

Now, there is a proposal in Minneapolis to enact an ordinance that would force landlords to at least consider them.

“So in essence, someone that uses a housing choice voucher should get a fair chance to be considered for an open spot at an apartment building,” said Elizabeth Glidden, vice president of the Minneapolis City Council.

The Section 8 rental candidates would still go through background checks and credit checks. But according to many landlords and the Minnesota Multi Housing Association, the problem is the program. They say Section 8 is a mess.

“Problems with inspections and the timing of inspections and payments to owners, lots of paperwork, and philosophically, the problem owners have is that we have to sign a HAP contract, it's a federal contract that supersedes our leases,” said Cecil Smith of the MMHA, who is also a landlord.

Smith says there are housing programs that do work, and he is happy to partner up with them.

“I take GRH housing first,” he said. “I gladly work with their program. That's a program to help homeless people find housing. It's a functional program.”

“We've really taken those concerns seriously. We're working with MPHA and they have committed to a big list of reforms and changes that they think will help improve the program,” said Glidden.

Smith says when they do make the changes to Section 8, he and many others will be ready.

“If it was a functional program, of course, and I would do it voluntarily,” he said.

Wednesday is the committee hearing. If it passes, it will likely go to the full council on Friday.