A proposed bill before the Baltimore County Council would keep landlords from discriminating against renters who rely on Section 8 vouchers.
"It does not force anyone to do anything other than be an American and not discriminate and give people a fair chance,” Councilman Julian Jones said. “That's all any of us want is a fair chance."
The bill is intended to break up pockets of poverty throughout the county and to end what federal housing authorities view as decades of discriminatory practices.
But the measure has raised concerns.
"Out of the 6,000 vouchers for Baltimore County, I have over 1,400 of them in the 6th District, which is Middle River up to Towson and I keep saying to myself, 'I'm going to get more. I'm going to get more," Councilwoman Cathy Bevins said.
The bill doesn't guarantee the subsidized poor will get to move into available units---just that they will be considered equally with people who rely on child support, alimony, Social Security or disability checks to make their rent.
"Any family who wants to move to a foreign neighborhood to them, so to speak, in order to have a neighborhood with less crime and better schools and better neighbors---that's a neighbor that you want to welcome because they want to succeed," Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said.
Critics have pointed to the added red tape, the potential negative impact on property values and limiting property owner's rights as reasons to oppose it.
"We've heard these same arguments throughout this country's history when African-Americans, Catholics, women, gay couples or Italian, Irish or any other immigrant group tried to relocate to a different neighborhood to better the lives of their families," Planning Director Andrea Van Arsdale said.
The council is expected to vote on the bill at its Aug. 1 meeting.
Howard, Montgomery and Frederick counties have already passed similar measures.