Recently the New Yorker published an article regarding the decision in an Iowa lawsuit involving the use of Section 8 housing vouchers for lot rent as a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act. The decision in favor of the resident was hailed by the New Yorker as a “promising victory,” but is an absolute disaster for manufactured home community owners and operators.
In this case, a person living on a limited income claimed she was unable to pay rent increases due to her disability. The Iowa community in which she lived had a policy of not accepting Section 8 housing vouchers and “source of income” is not a protected class under state or local law. The resident requested the community owner/operator accept Section 8 as a reasonable accommodation under the federal Fair Housing Act because her disability made it impossible to pay her rent without them. The community denied the accommodation as unreasonable and as creating undue hardship on the business. A federal lawsuit ensued.
The resident won, forcing the owner/operator to accept Section 8 housing vouchers as a reasonable accommodation under the federal Fair Housing Act. Click here to read the entire case from the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Iowa. As courts in other federal circuits have reached different decisions, the case was immediately appealed.
The bottom line is that if a resident requests the use of Section 8 vouchers as a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act, call your lawyer immediately. The answer may not be as simple as you think.