FILE - Iowa State Capitol

Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines, Iowa.

(The Center Square) – Iowa cities and counties can no longer prohibit an owner, lessor, or managing agent from refusing to lease or rent out dwelling units because of a person’s use of a federal housing choice voucher beginning Jan. 1, 2023.

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the bill, SF252, into law on April 30.

The Iowa Senate had passed the bill in a 30-17 vote March 17 while the Iowa House passed it in a 56-38 vote March 15.

Des Moines, Iowa City and Marion have “source of income” ordinances that prohibit landlords from refusing to rent or lease based on applicants' use of federal housing vouchers such as the Section 8 housing program, as KELO Newstalk 1320AM 107.9FM reported.

Four entities – the Iowa Apartment Association (dba IaRPOA), the Iowa Landlord Association, the Greater Iowa Apartment Association, and Eastlake Partnership – had lobbied in favor of the legislation while dozens of organizations lobbied against it.

U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge told MSNBC in a March 17 interview that “if they want to get into a fight about it [the Fair Housing Act], we’re ready to fight them about it” and that she would recommend a lawsuit though she would need to “discuss” the issue with the Department of Justice.

“But I would clearly believe that we are within our rights to demand that these communities cooperate with what we are doing,” Fudge said. “Absolutely.”

The department announced in a news release May 3 that it is making $20.2 million in grants available through the Fair Housing Initiatives Program. The department has made available $7.2 million for organizations that develop and implement tester training and education and outreach, $2.3 million for non-profit fair housing organizations “to build their capacity and effectiveness to conduct enforcement related activities,” and $10.8 million to help nonprofit enforcement organizations conduct investigations to prevent or eliminate discriminatory housing practices.

Organizations can find application forms at www.grants.gov. Applications are due June 14.

The Center Square did not receive comment May 3 from Pat Garrett, communications director for the Iowa governor, or Senate President Jake Chapman, R-Adel, by press time.