Fair Housing Protections and Barriers to Access to Affordable Housing and Supportive Housing (GSHA 12th Annual Supportive Housing Conference)

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The Federal and Georgia Fair Housing Acts proscribe practices, laws, and policies that discriminate based upon the disability or familial status of residents who live in a dwelling, as well as other protected classes, including race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, and minor children. Advocates are looking at ways to use these protections to address discrimination against renters based on prior evictions, justice involved history, and use of vouchers and other sources of income that limit access to affordable housing. In addition, the Acts bar zoning ordinances that treat uses such as supportive housing or group homes for people with disabilities differently and less favorably than other similar uses. Still, Georgia’s 159 counties have enacted many variations of zoning codes that adversely impact the development and renovation of supportive housing. Zoning ordinances are repeatedly identified by providers and prospective providers of supportive housing as real barriers to development. These barriers directly impede the development of critically needed affordable, supportive housing units and they implicate racial inequity and the rights of people with disabilities.