Effective Jan. 1, 2021, the Colorado Legislature passed legislation that added source of income (SOI) and requires most housing providers to participate in voluntary federal-subsidized housing programs, such as Section 8. 
Unfortunately, regulatory compliance with these voluntary programs can be expensive and beyond the sophistication of some housing providers. Legislators have promised to explore avenues to improve the Section 8 programs.


This bill prohibits discrimination in housing based on a person’s source of income and makes such discrimination an unfair housing practice. The source of income must be lawful and verifiable including income from any lawful profession or occupation and from any government or private assistance, grant, or loan program. A landlord cannot refuse to rent or lease housing, refuse to show housing, refuse to transmit an offer to rent or lease, advertise that the rental or lease is limited based on source of income, or deny that housing is available in order to discriminate against someone based on their source of income. If the initial payment is not made in a timely manner, the landlord may exercise any right or pursue any remedy available under law. Rental housing providers with three or fewer rentals from the whole bill. Rental housing providers with five or fewer single family homes (and no more than five rental units total) do not have to accept Section 8 vouchers, but are otherwise subject to the rest of the bill. 


In the city of Boulder, the ordinance went into effect on Aug. 23, 2018, prohibiting housing providers from refusing to accept housing assistance and discriminating against applicants and residents based on their source of income. The city amended The Human Rights Ordinance in 2020 to add “Source of Income” as additional protected classes. In Boulder, the exemptions are not as clear as they are in Denver. Currently, the ordinance doesn’t prohibit a rental housing provider from limiting occupancy of a single dwelling unit occupied by the owner at their residence; a rental housing provider from limiting occupancy in buildings with no more than two families living independently, if the owner also lives in the same building; or an owner of a housing facility devoted entirely to housing individuals of one sex. 


Denver’s SOI ordinance took effect Jan. 1, 2019. The Denver City Council passed the ordinance requiring housing providers with rental units in Denver County to consider Section 8 vouchers and other non-traditional sources of income. Non-traditional income may include vouchers and subsidies from Section 8, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH), VASH, CAP, student loans, disability, social security, pension benefits and more. There is an exclusion for a Denver housing provider with only one rental, and for duplexes where the owner lives in one of the units. The new ordinance requires housing providers to consider the applicant. However, if the applicant does NOT qualify under a housing provider’s normal screening criteria (credit score below a certain level, negative rental history, history of bad credit, certain criminal behavior, or eviction), a rental housing provider can still deny an applicant.

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