Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

House lawmakers pass bills expanding protections against discrimination of unhoused people

Delaware Legislative Hall
Delaware Public Media
Delaware Legislative Hall

House lawmakers pass legislation expanding protections against discrimination of those who are unhoused in Delaware.

According to the Housing Alliance Delaware’s 2024 Point-In-Time Count — a single night where organization members count the number of people experiencing homelessness in the state — around 1,358 people are unhoused.

State Rep. Sophie Philips’ (D-Bear) two bills would add “housing status” as a protected characteristic in Delaware Code — the first pertaining to employment practices.

“HB 440 prohibits discrimination based on someone’s housing status in the field of employment and professional activities. This is intended to prevent anyone from discriminating based on someone’s address or lack thereof," she said, meaning an unhoused person could not legally be overlooked for a job opportunity based on their housing status alone.

The bill is designed to protect individuals from discrimination based on their housing status in various aspects of employment, including hiring, termination, promotion, compensation and job training.

It passed unanimously among members present, but Philips' second bill did not garner as much bipartisan support, with eight Republican representatives voting against it.

House Bill 439 would make similar changes to HB 440, except it would prohibit discrimination based on housing status when purchasing a house or renting an apartment.

“This is intended to prevent anyone from discriminating [during] the purchase or rent of a home because of someone’s current or prior housing situation. It does this by amending the current fair housing laws throughout Delaware Code to include housing status," Philips explained.

Both bills head to the Senate for consideration.

Before residing in Dover, Delaware, Sarah Petrowich moved around the country with her family, spending eight years in Fairbanks, Alaska, 10 years in Carbondale, Illinois and four years in Indianapolis, Indiana. She graduated from the University of Missouri in 2023 with a dual degree in Journalism and Political Science.