Beginning June 1 the City of Iowa City began to enforce an amendment to its Human Rights Ordinance prohibiting Iowa City landlords from refusing to rent to participants of the Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8.

Landlords who previously denied applicants based solely on the fact that they participated in the program will have to change their policy.

Iowa City is only the second city in the state, along with Marion, to ban discrimination against Housing Choice Voucher Program participants. There will be no immediate impact on landlords in the Coralville, North Liberty or other surrounding areas. However, depending on the success of the amendment in Iowa City, other cities in the state may begin to implement similar changes.

In an effort to fully understand the program and how it could impact property owners, members from the Westwinds Real Estate staff recently met with Steve Rackis, Housing Authority Administrator, and attended Fair Housing training with Stefanie Bowers, Iowa City’s Human Rights and Equity Director. Westwinds also invited Kristin Watson from the City’s Human Rights Division for a question and answer training session with its entire staff.

Ultimately, the amendment will have little impact on the way that Westwinds evaluates applicants other than the income portion for housing voucher participants. The change in the ordinance makes it unlawful to deny applicants based solely on the fact that they are participants in the program.

The intention of the ordinance is not to compromise landlords or force them to rent to unqualified applicants, but rather to give everybody an equal opportunity to find a home of their choice.

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