By Josh Cohen.
The “luxury remodel” one-bedroom in Willow Glen. The “spacious” four-bedroom in San Jose South. The two-bedroom duplex downtown. They’re just a sampling of the many listings on Craigslist in San Jose, California, that specifically bar Section 8 voucher holders from applying for a lease. Federal fair housing law bans discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, family status, disability or age. But it has no stipulation about discriminating against income sources.
“It’s a huge issue,” says Mathew Reed, an organizer with Sacred Heart Community Services, a San Jose social services organization. “In runaway housing markets like ours, Section 8 voucher holders really struggle to find places to live.”
The San Jose City Council is exploring the idea of banning income source discrimination, including Section 8 discrimination. In late April, the council adopted a memorandum stating their intention to consider an ordinance banning income source discrimination and requiring the city’s housing department to analyze the problem.
As is the case throughout the Bay Area, housing costs in San Jose have skyrocketed. According to a recent Redfin report, it has the most competitive housing market in the U.S. The Mercury News reports that the rental market cooled a bit last fall, but the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city was still $2,455.
“Our housing costs are so high and our vacancy rate is low. It’s below 5 percent. It means we don’t have a lot of supply,” says Housing Department Director Jacky Morales-Ferrand.