Dear Councilman Kach-
I write as a relatively new member of your district because I understand from the Baltimore Sun that you will vote against the HOME Act. I am not aware of your specific reasons for voting against the bill despite trying to find something on your website. If you have issued a statement that explains with specificity your position please send it to me so I can better understand your position. I am especially interested in what facts have you relied on in arriving at your decision to vote against the HOME Act.
Inspections– I understand many landlords object to mandatory inspections. I was a landlord in Baltimore City for six years. While no one ever sought to rent with a voucher, I still was required to have the property inspected every year. Having one’s property inspected is not an inconvenience, and I was never asked to make a repair that wasn’t reasonable or related to safety. It took all of 15 minutes to inspect a three unit building. I didn’t mind the inspection because I wanted to have a safe building. Wouldn’t every landlord?
Source of income-The HOME Act does not require landlords to accept every tenant with a voucher. It allows landlords to reject potential tenants for bad credit, income derived from criminal activity, etc. Why doesn’t this satisfy landlord concerns about renting to people who use vouchers? Wouldn’t most responsible landlords do this sort of due diligence for any tenant regardless of their source of income? For all prospective tenants, many of whom were young, I did background and credit checks, which the tenants paid for. I personally checked case search for criminal backgrounds and called their previous landlords and other references. It never took more than a few minutes to do this. This enabled me to make informed decisions about whom to rent to. It was not a burden by any stretch.
Through my professional and personal life I know the difference that a decent and safe place to live means to a family. For the past seven years I have mentored a now 18 year old girl whose family had to couch surf for most of her high school career. It had a significantly negative impact on her ability to do well at Poly High School (your alma mater). When she found stable housing with a grandparent in Baltimore County, her grades improved and she is no longer depressed and sad. This is just one example, but as I am sure you know, housing insecurity and the ensuing problems it brings are a significant issue in the Baltimore metropolitan area.
I urge you to reconsider your position. Discrimination on the basis of source of income is wrong because it denies people who need a safe place to live equal opportunity to prove they would be good tenants. I look forward to learning why you think this is acceptable.
Respectfully, Dawna Cobb
Ms. Cobb is an attorney living in Hunt Valley. She was an assistant attorney general in the Maryland Attorney General’s Office for 16 years. From 2006-2017 she served in several positions at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, including assistant dean for student affairs, lecturer at law, and Director of the JustAdvice® Project, which provided free legal advice to people who could not afford it. She currently does volunteer legal work and serves on several non-profit boards.