U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) introduced the "Ending Housing Discrimination Against Servicemembers and Veterans Act of 2012" today. The bill is in direct response to a report by the Boston Herald regarding a veteran who was allegedly told not to apply to rent an apartment, simply because he was a veteran. Senator Brown's bill will amend the Fair Housing Act which was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968 and was last amended in 1988. Former Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke was an original co-sponsor of the Act. The Fair Housing Act currently only prevents discrimination in advertisements, offers, contract conditions, and agreements for housing on the account of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.
"American heroes deserve the same protection from housing discrimination as any other group," said Senator Brown. "Our servicemembers and veterans should be welcomed home, not discriminated against because of their brave service. Even if a servicemember or veteran comes from a state with strong laws preventing housing discrimination, they are just one move or transfer away from losing those protections. Our heroes should never have to worry about being barred from renting or owning a home because they answered the call and made sacrifices for our country. My legislation makes housing discrimination against our veterans and servicemembers illegal nationwide for the first time."
"Senator Brown's work to protect service members and veterans from housing discrimination is very positive," said Richard L. DeNoyer, Commander-in-Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. "It is unconscionable that members of our military and veterans should fear not being able to rent or buy a home because of their status as a veteran. This bill will correct the issue."
Excerpts from the Boston Herald:
"A National Guardsman who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay has sued a woman he tried to rent from, after she told him his war service and her peace activism presented a "conflict of interests' and suggested he seek housing elsewhere -- though the Dorchester landlady insists his veteran status "would not impede his chances to rent from us.'"
"Sgt. Joel Morgan, 29, said the two-bedroom $1,220-a-month Savin Hill apartment that property owner Janice Roberts, 63, showed him in April was perfect. But he claims Roberts told him in an April 9 voicemail that renting to him would be a conflict, saying, "We are very adamant about our beliefs.'"