The North Texas Fair Housing Center filed complaints Friday against 32 Dallas apartment complexes that it accused of refusing to accept government housing vouchers from veterans.
The agency conducted an investigation after it received complaints veterans including Dawn Jackson.
She served six years in the US Army and received a government housing voucher after spending some time homeless in Dallas.
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She said it was very difficult to find an apartment that would accept her voucher.
“It was hard. I went to several places. Maybe 2 out of 10 places would take it and it was just a process. It went so long I had to get the voucher extended,” Jackson said.
Frances Espinoza, Executive Director of the North Texas Fair Housing Center, said testers from the agency visited 35 Dallas complexes all around the city, claiming to be veterans with housing vouchers.
“It’s a type of investigation that has been upheld by the Supreme Court in the Havens case,” Espinoza said.
They found only three complexes that would accept vouchers as payment for rent.
“When they have a vacancy and a veteran comes to apply, they shouldn’t be turned away just because they have a voucher. They should be given the opportunity to apply just like everyone else if there’s a vacancy available,” Espinoza said.
Dallas has a very large homeless population with a severe shortage of affordable housing. Thousands of vouchers go unused each year because landlords refuse to accept them.
Several years ago, the City of Dallas passed a law requiring landlords to accept vouchers. The Texas Legislature limited the requirement to Military Veterans.
“That’s one segment of the population that shouldn’t be denied and that’s helpful because there’s a lot of homeless veterans,” Espinoza said.
The agency wants the City of Dallas to order the 32 complexes to accept vouchers and also wants the complexes to be force to pay for an education campaign for other landlords.
“There wasn’t a valid excuse for them to turn these folks away,” Espinoza said.
Jackson can’t understand why landlords do.
“Where an individual may or may not pay, pretty much the government, it’s sure fire money,” she said.
Jackson was a nurse before serving as a combat medic in the US Army. She is currently living with her family in Grayson County but she has found a Dallas complex that will accept her voucher.
“I’m just trying to get back to the city where it’s bigger, more opportunity,” she said.
Her new apartment in Dallas will be ready soon.
The 32 complexes accused of refusing vouchers had not seen the complaint Friday and could not be expected to respond immediately.