On behalf of The Law Firm of Campen & Manganaro.

On Monday, the Baltimore City Council defeated a bill that would have banned landlords from discriminating against potential tenants who use government housing vouchers to pay their rent.

The bill, introduced by requirement as part of a settlement between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the county government, was aimed at providing more opportunities to the county’s poor.  It was rejected on a 6-1 vote.

“This bill has been and continues to be about a very simple point: prejudice and discrimination,” Councilman Julian Jones, who cast the lone vote in favor of the measure, said.

Opponents of the bill pointed out that it would create more paperwork and costs for landlords, while residents also raised concerns that it would cause more voucher holders to move to their area, lowering property values and possibly leading to a high concentration of the poor in areas where vouchers are already heavily used.

“I want to reduce poverty,” stated Councilwoman Cathy Bevins, “but without guarantees that more voucher holders would not move into my district, I cannot support the legislation as it is written.”

Council Chairwoman Vicki Almond, calling her vote against the bill “a very tough, tough decision,” explained: “While I agree with the aims of this legislation, I cannot in good conscience vote for a flawed bill created by a process in which I played no part.”

As it stands, prospective tenants in Baltimore County currently looking to use housing vouchers can still be turned away by a landlord.