Illinois Tries to Mandate Section 8 Approval

For the past few months, various articles have circulated every week or so about the need to make Section 8 housing something that landlords are compelled to accept.

This is yet another highly contested topic in America, polarizing people to either side of the issue. Many believe that landlords have rights, just like everyone else, while others believe that housing is a more important right, and the government should be forcing landlords to accept Section 8 in order to house poor people.

Until recently, this was mostly just talk around the entire nation; things that people tossed around hypothetically. However, as of earlier this week, it's something that may become a reality in Illinois, as the State House's General Assembly looks to pass bill HB2775, which will legally force all landlords to accept Section 8, among other things.

For people who aren't caught up on this topic, it's simply enough to follow along with.

Landlords charge rent to their tenants, obviously, but many do not want to accept Section 8 for a variety of reasons. Maybe they don't like the idea of housing people who are on government assistance to live. Maybe they want to raise their rent when they feel like it, but Section 8 remains stable and does not allow them to do that.

Whatever their reasons, good or bad, a lot of landlords do not accept Section 8, and some politicians and activists claim that they should be forced to. It appears as if Illinois is on the cusp of making this a statewide mandate for all landlords.

It's Not Only Big Companies

The first thing that critics of this bill would want you to understand is that this isn't going to affect the rich and powerful landlords; it's only going to hurt the small landlords.

Most people on Section 8 aren't moving into properties owned by large corporations, if only because the rent is far too high for Section 8.

Even the new bill in Illinois wouldn't cause these rental rates to magically fall and become affordable. So what you're left with are all the small property owners, who own a small apartment building or two, or perhaps town houses. Their rental rates are affordable enough to be covered by Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, and so they would effectively be the only ones actually affected by this bill.

People who require Section 8 to pay their rent typically have two options, and both involve low-cost housing. The first is government-owned public housing, which already only deals in Section 8, so thus wouldn't be affected by the bill. The second option is the small-time landlord whose properties aren't valued very highly. These are the people who would have to legally accept Section 8 as payment if the legislation passes.

"Homeless Prevention" That Doesn't Prevent Homelessness

The bill in the General Assembly has been dubbed the "Homeless Prevention" act, as the argument presented publicly is that this bill's only purpose is to prevent people from being homeless.

However, according to the data, it's very rare that a homeless person gets on Section 8 to get off the streets. Unfortunately, statistics show that most of the homeless population is dealing with mental health issues, substance abuse issues, and other issues that the homeless themselves do not address.

To say that this bill is to prevent homelessness is quite odd to critics. As one critic put it, "Then why don't you just go get homeless people off the streets into government housing? Why put them up in private homes?"

Rules, Rules and More Rules

The proposed bill in the General Assembly goes much further than just suggesting landlords need to legally accept Section 8. It also stipulates that the rent must also be controlled. This makes perfect sense, of course, as the government isn't going to allow some private landlords to bill them more money. So no matter the state of the economy, the landlord will not be able to raise rent to make more profit.

Another reported stipulation suggests that landlords would not be able to evict tenants. So, even if the tenants are trashing the place and are generally bad tenants, the landlord would have to allow them to stay.

The issue in proposals like these is that it's the landlords who end up un-personed by the government. Landlords don't have rights in such a situation, as their rights have been stripped to act as government vassals for housing the poor.

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