Bill introduced to amend Fair Housing Act to bar rejection of US territory income
SAN JUAN – Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González has introduced H.R. 6209, seeking that stateside mortgage lenders not discriminate against people whose income is sourced from a U.S. territory.
The island’s only representative in Congress said that many Puerto Ricans, who “try to rebuild their lives in the states, face difficulties such as lending-institution rejections. She explained that her concern was that these disaster survivors end up having to resort to smaller lenders that charge higher mortgage rates because documents such as a Puerto Rico tax returns are not being accepted.
The bill, which was referred to the Judiciary Committee, is “To amend the Fair Housing Act to provide that it is unlawful for any person engaging in a residential real estate-related transaction to discriminate against any person in making available such a transaction, or in the terms or conditions of such a transaction, because all or part of the person’s income derives from a source located in Puerto Rico or any other territory of the United States, and for other purposes.”
“The lack of knowledge about the legal relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States has an effect on the Puerto Ricans who seek to rent or buy a home in the mainland states. People like the thousands of Puerto Rican families who moved to the mainland states after Hurricane María face problems when seeking approval of a mortgage or lease due to unawareness in the stateside mortgage market of the legal and tax status of Puerto Rico,” the resident commissioner said.
“This measure has not cost to the federal treasury while it provides justice to our fellow citizens who had to move from their home island,” González added.
Thousands of Puerto Rico residents moved stateside following the impact of last year’s historic hurricanes, Irma and Maria. Most islanders moved to Florida, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Texas, New Jersey, Virginia, Connecticut, New York, Illinois and North Carolina, according to the resident commissioner’s release.
“Potential buyers or tenants face problems when providing the evidence of income from prior years when the income originated in the territory. This bill seeks to prevent this discrimination, which is yet another proof of how the colonial condition of the territory continues to work against us even when we seek other opportunities,” the resident commissioner said.
“This is not a problem with these persons’ capacity to pay nor with their credit history; rather, it is about the lack of knowledge among people across the nation who handle these transactions about the legal territorial relation of Puerto Rico within the federal system,” González reiterated.