New law aims to open doors for Section 8 renters

2,600 people on the Section 8 waiting list in Multnomah County alone

Steve White says he doesn't know how he'd afford this home in SE Portland without the money he receives from Section 8, July 2, 2014. (KOIN 6)
Steve White says he doesn't know how he'd afford this home in SE Portland without the money he receives from Section 8, July 2, 2014. (KOIN 6)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — A new state law in Oregon bars landlords from rejecting people on Section 8 rental assistance.

The federal program give vouchers to low-income renters, so they can afford a place to live, but many landlords said “no” to Section 8 until now.

“I live on $879 a month, which is not a lot of money,” said Steve White, a Section 8 tenant.

Without the $515 a month White receives from Section 8, which is also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, White said he would have no way of affording to rent the SE Portland home he currently lives in.

“I don’t know what I’d do without that voucher,” he said.

However, Jill Smith with Home Forward, which was formerly the Housing Authority of Portland, said most landlords turn away Section 8 renters before they even apply.

“The biggest reason that we’ve heard are that they’re people who are poor,” said Smith.

Smith told KOIN 6 she worked with Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek to pass the law preventing landlords from advertising “No Section 8” or rejecting Section 8 applicants. Practices that Smith said were rampant before the law took effect on Tuesday.

“I hope sincerely that it opens some doors that they couldn’t get into before,” said Smith.

Several advertisements on Craigslist that had “No Section 8” as part of their description disappeared the day the law went in to effect.

“I believe that means there is no more discrimination in Oregon based on income and that’s a good thing,” said Smith.

Landlords, however, can still reject Section 8 renters based on past rental history or background checks, but the new law opens up options for low-income renters.

Smith said 2,600 people are on the Section 8 waiting list in Multnomah County alone.

Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries is responsible for enforcing the new law.

Landlords who go against it could face up to an $11,000 fine.

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