In late 2018, MacBeth and Pruitt partnered on a project aimed at banning housing discrimination in MacBeth’s adopted hometown of Arlington County, Virginia. Specifically, the two wanted to address the problem of discrimination against some of the county’s low-income renters who are often turned away by private landlords solely on the basis of their source of income (SOI), which for many is a government subsidy such as a housing voucher.
“Currently, you can legally discriminate against people who receive government assistance in many states,” says Pruitt. “Typically, these people are among the most vulnerable parts of the population, and in Arlington, they’re disproportionately black and brown folks.” Landlords’ ability to discriminate based on SOI, therefore, not only hurts the poor, it can also be used as a redlining tool, Pruitt adds. “It makes it very hard to find housing if you’re a poor person or a black or a brown person.”
To help fix the problem, MacBeth and Pruitt came up with the Furthering Housing Accessibility for Income-Assisted Renters (FHAIR) proposal, which eliminates discrimination based on SOI by adding it as a protected class, similar to race, sex and national origin, to the state’s fair housing law and by providing a tax credit to landlords who accept housing vouchers.