Pets in Public Housing and Section 8 

Both S. 462 and H.R. 2 would change current law by requiring that housing authorities allow residents to own and keep "common household pets" in public housing and Section 8 project-based units. The Senate bill, while objectionable, at least contains some statutory restrictions on the types and breeds of pets that would be allowed. A more recent draft version of the House version does allow housing authorities to charge a security deposit and small fee as a condition of residents owning pets.

PHADA position
PHADA strongly opposes the provision and believes it should be deleted from the public housing bill for the following reasons.

  • Washington should not dictate a "one-size-fits-all" piece of legislation to 3,400 communities, which are often very different from one another. Such governmental interference would never be considered in the private market where, it must be noted, pets are often prohibited.

  • The quality of life in some public housing and privately-owned Section 8 communities will be seriously eroded. For example, noise will be greatly increased as many dogs will be left in apartments unattended and will bark for hours as anyone goes down the hall. In addition, damage to apartments will increase and be an ongoing serious problem. Also, feces and urine will become commonplace in hallways, patios, walkways, and playgrounds.

  • Many public and assisted housing residents do not want pets in their communities because of sanitary, safety and allergy-related concerns. The wishes of those residents, however, would be superseded by the two bills.

  • Housing authorities will face increased insurance costs and multiple lawsuits for not being able to ensure the safety of residents and the elderly when residents are attacked by dogs.

  • The potential safety and sanitary problems that could arise from the proposal are quite significant. On this specific point, here are some very possible outcomes: 1) Many children and seniors will be endangered by vicious dogs in crowded complexes, especially in high-rise hallways, elevators, backyards, and playgrounds; 2) Maintenance and management staff entering apartments for repairs and service will be in considerable danger of being bitten or attacked by dogs; 3) It will be difficult to enforce having animals get vaccinations, and mistreatment of some pets could occur.

Suggested action
The provision should be deleted from the bill. PHADA believes that local housing authorities in consultation with their localities and residents themselves should be left to decide under what circumstances residents are allowed to own pets.

Public Housing Authorities Directors Association - 202-546-5445
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