WASHINGTON, D.C. (KWWL) -- The U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development says says the Biden administration may sue Iowa if Governor Kim Reynolds signs a controversial housing bill.
Senate File 252 would prohibit ordinances banning landlords from denying tenants based solely on the fact the use Section 8 housing vouchers. Iowa City, Marion, and Des Moines are the only cities in Iowa with such ordinances in place.
Republicans say the bill is a win for landlords who shouldn't be required to consider renters who take part in the program. Democrats say the bill will make it harder for low-income residents to find affordable housing. They add it could lead to landlords using "source of income" to cover for other forms of discrimination like for a person's race or disability.
U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge was asked about the bill during an appearance on MSNBC Wednesday night.
"As a lawyer, what I know is that fair housing is the law. It is the law of the land. We passed a Fair Housing Act in 1968," Fudge said. "We also know that discrimination zoning is a violation of the law. Now if they want to get into a fight about it, we're ready to fight them about it, because the president has said to me is that we're going to find resources and build new housing. You can't build it when communities are saying 'not in my backyard.' You cannot house people when they are purposely making it more difficult for people to find housing. It is a violation of the law."
Fudge was then asked if the administration would look at potential lawsuits.
"It would certainly be my recommendation that we do it, but it is a discussion that I would not need to have with the Department of Justice, but I would clearly believe that we're within our rights to demand that these communities cooperate with what we are doing. Absolutely," Fudge added.
If signed by Gov. Reynolds, the ordinances in the three cities would be voided on January 1, 2023 to allow for a transition period to avoid the potential of people quickly having their homes taken away from them. Any city that doesn't have such an ordinance in place would immediately be ineligible to create such a ban.