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A whistleblower complaint against President Trump sets off tug-of-war between Congress and the White House; and students around the world strike today to demand action on climate change.

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Climate change is a big issue this election season, and global climate strikes kick off, while UAW labor strikes continue.

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"No Dogs, No Smoking and No Section 8"

PHOTO: Housing discrimination is common in Virginia for renters who a part of the Housing Choice Voucher according to Olivia Jones, an intern who investigated allegations on behalf of Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia.
PHOTO: Housing discrimination is common in Virginia for renters who a part of the Housing Choice Voucher according to Olivia Jones, an intern who investigated allegations on behalf of Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia.
December 13, 2012

RICHMOND, Va. - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Choice Voucher Program is designed to provide renters with subsidies so they can gain access to a wider variety of rental properties in different neighborhoods.

This all sounds good on paper, says Olivia Jones, an intern who conducted an investigation on behalf of Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia, but the reality is altogether different. Jones says her investigation found that many clients are being turned away by landlords who want nothing to do with the voucher program.

"There are some landlords who have more stigma and stereotypes against Housing Choice vouchers, and so they refuse to rent to the tenants."

Jones and other fair-housing advocates would like to see protections added for people who pay rent using government assistance under the Fair Housing Act, which protects people from discrimination based on gender, race or religion.

Zenobia Washington of Petersburg knows what housing discrimination feels like first-hand. She entered into the Housing Choice Voucher Program with the hope of moving to a better neighborhood for her four children so that she could get them into better schools. But she found many landlords wouldn't accept the vouchers because of bad experiences with Section 8 renters in the past.

"All people are not the same. Everybody deserves a chance. So that's how I feel. Being a tenant anywhere I go, I want to take care of that property, but they didn't look at it like that. It didn't make them change their mind."

Jones says her agency found widespread discrimination against low-income clients - with ads reading: "No Dogs, No Smoking and No Section 8." All perfectly legal, she says, which is why she thinks new guidelines are needed.

"These are often female-headed households of hard-working women who are trying to make better lives for their families."

Jones cites numerous studies which show that in order to break out of cycles of poverty, it's important for people to get out of bad neighborhoods and move to areas with better school systems, transportation and employment opportunities.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA