On Thursday, May 29, the Louisiana House of Representatives failed to pass Senate Bill 233 by a vote of 34-63. SB233 would have provided housing protections to victims of domestic violence. The bill passed unanimously through a Senate Committee, the Senate Floor, and a House Committee.
The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) joined 42 organizations statewide in supporting the leadership of Senate President Pro Tem Sharon Weston Broome to promote better housing options for victims of domestic violence without imposing an undue burden on landlords. Representative Helena Moreno carried the bill in the House as part of a larger package of successful legislation aimed at enhancing protections for victims of domestic violence. Speaker Pro Tem Leger and Rep Moreno demonstrated tremendous leadership in skillfully managing over an hour of floor debate.
The landlord lobby, spearheaded by Favrot & Shane Co., spread misinformation about the potential impacts of the legislation. Ultimately, Representatives Joe Harrison, Jay Morris, Greene, Garofalo and Lopinto led 58 other lawmakers in voting to hold victims of domestic abuse responsible for the violence they suffer. Many of the representatives who voted against the legislation are landlords themselves, revealing a disturbing conflict of interest at play.
GNOFHAC’s support of proposed legislation began in response to complaints from women that faced evictions because they were victims of domestic violence. Some leases in Louisiana include policies that stipulate that involvement in any aspect of domestic violence is grounds for eviction. In the event of domestic violence, victims that have signed such leases have to choose between homelessness or calling the police for basic protection.
GNOFHAC Assistant Director Kate Scott remarks “We are grateful for the leadership of Senator Broome, Representative Moreno, Representative Leger and all of the other elected officials that voted in support of minimal, common sense protections for victims of domestic violence during this legislative session. By the same token, we are disgusted that 63 Louisiana lawmakers voted against victims and on the side of perpetrators.”
The final vote is available here.
The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) is a private nonprofit organization. GNOFHAC is dedicated to eliminating housing discrimination and furthering equal housing opportunities through education, outreach, advocacy, and enforcement of fair housing laws across the metro New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas. The activities described in this release were privately funded.