As the midterm elections get closer, politicians’ campaign promises fill every online news outlet, metro station advertising wall, and social media site. Thrive DC, though, wants to focus on a political promise that recently passed the DC Council. Starting October 1st of this year, the DC Human Rights Enhancement Amendment Act made it illegal to discriminate against unhoused people.
“This legislation will help restore dignity for people who suffer discrimination,” said Robert White in an interview with Street Sense Media. White is the council member who spearheaded this amendment, which makes it illegal for employers, landlords, law enforcement, private businesses or others to discriminate based on housing status.
This type of class discrimination is widespread. A 2014 study by the National Coalition for the Homeless shows that 93% of unhoused people report experiencing discrimination because of their housing status.
Thanks to this new law, though, unhoused people will have protections against these harms. Employers will face penalties for rejecting job candidates because of their housing status, as will landlords for rejecting housing applicants who use housing vouchers to pay for the space. By transforming unhoused people’s ability to secure employment and housing, the Act will support unhoused people in establishing greater self-sufficiency.
Additionally, the bill creates funding to educate law enforcement about economic bias. “Improving that relationship would definitely help the police understand homelessness and what it means for those people experiencing homelessness. It would be a good thing,” said director of advocacy at Friendship Place, provider of homeless services, Lynn Amano.
Thrive DC celebrates this amendment and the opportunity it opens to our clients. We encourage the DC Council to continue reducing barriers to economic, social, and personal success for all people. Additionally, Thrive calls on local, state and federal governments to follow DC’s lead in naming unhoused people as a protected class.
Want to join the DC Council in the fight to support unhoused people? Donate, volunteer, or follow Thrive DC’s social media for the latest DC housing updates. If you’re a business owner, landlord, or a concerned citizen, read up on the amendment to know the new discrimination laws. Finally, research the 2022 electoral candidates to see which options support reducing barriers to housing, employment, and more.
We can’t wait to update you on the next DC housing success!