Advocates want City of Marietta to expand Section 8 options for renters
The Marietta City Council got an ear full from renter advocates at last week’s meeting as they called on the Council to take action that would force the Marietta Housing Authority to expand rental options for residents receiving housing vouchers. Advocates want Marietta to follow Atlanta in blocking landlords from refusing to accept Section 8 housing vouchers, a federal subsidy for low-income renters. According to WABE Atlanta, in February 2020 Atlanta barred property owners from discriminating based on a renter’s “source of income.” Marietta’s city code refers only to the guidelines set forth under the federal Fair Housing Act, which bars housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and disability. It does not address requirements regarding Section 8, which the advocates want changed.
Monica DeLancy, the leader of We Thrive in Riverside Drive, claimed that property owners are using a variety of means to avoid renting to voucher holders. “They’ll deny somebody because of their credit. They won’t say they’re denying somebody because of Section 8 … they’ll use another excuse. Other concerns facing low-income renters that advocates pointed to included deplorable living conditions such as mold, rats, insects, broken appliances, and other inhuman conditions.
Mayor Steve Tumlin and Councilwoman Michelle Cooper Kelly are both running for Mayor of Marietta, so political watchers are wondering what positions they will take on this issue. The MDJ credits Tumlin with saying that the city is limited in how much it can pry into potential code violations, while Cooper Kelly said changes to city ordinance would come from the City Council and she needed to take a closer look at the scope of the issue before commenting on any changes to the code. Kelly Cooper once served on the Marietta Housing Authority, which should provide a greater understanding of why advocates are calling on changes.
If renter advocates have anything to do with it, this will be a campaign issue in the City of Marietta’s Mayoral race for both Tumlin and Cooper Kelly.