Ferndale joins neighboring cities in banning the source of income discrimination
(Crystal A. Proxmire, Aug 11, 2021)
Ferndale, Royal Oak, Hazel Park, MI – An increasing number of communities no longer allow landlords to legally withhold rent based on the way they pay their rent, including veteran benefits, judicial payments, and voucher programs.
Ferndale City Council on Monday voted to approve an ordinance on the source of income discrimination that would allow the city to impose a fine on landlords who refuse to rent to people based on their type of income or who campaign for exclusion (e.g. “no section 8”). . An administrative offense can be charged against repeat offenders. According to regulation:
“Violation of any provision of this article is a civil violation punishable by a fine of no more than $ 500.00 plus the cost of the lawsuit. The court may issue and enforce any judgments, pleadings or orders necessary to enforce this article. Any third or subsequent criminal offense in excess of three in a calendar year is considered an offense punishable by a fine of up to US $ 500.00 or a prison sentence of no more than 90 days, or both. Each day on which a violation of this Article 4 continues constitutes a separate offense and can be punished as a separate offense. The court may issue and enforce any judgments, pleadings or orders necessary to enforce this article. “
The regulation gives examples of sources of income “Including, but not limited to (a) money derived from any lawful occupation or occupation; (b) money from a lawful contract, contract, loan, or settlement; from a court order, such as child support ordered by a court or alimony; from a gift or legacy; or from a pension or life insurance policy; and (c) funds derived from any benefit or subsidy program, including, but not limited to, housing benefit programs or any other form of housing benefit payments or loans, whether paid directly to or attributed to a landlord; Social care; Emergency rental assistance; Veterans benefit; Social security or other retirement program; additional security income; VA and FHA loans and any other programs administered by a federal, state, or local government or not-for-profit organization. “
There are exceptions, including “the person who owns, owns, or has no interest in having more than three apartments within the city” and “rooms or units in an apartment that contains living spaces that are or are intended to be inhabited by no more than four families who live independently of each other if the apartment owner actually maintains and lives in such a living space as his place of residence. “
County Commissioner Charlie Cavell took the proposal to the city council, as in the other cities he represents. Cavell is part of an effort by the District Democratic Commissioner to promote local bans across the district. The move was announced at a press conference held on April 20 at the Ferndale Housing Commission, attended by commissioners from Royal Oak, Pontiac and Southfield, as well as housing professionals.
Cities that have already issued similar ordinances include Hazel Park, Royal Oak, Ann Arbor, Lansing, East Lansing, and Holland. Cavell said resolutions are being considered in Berkley, Oak Park, Madison Heights and Troy.
Ferndale Councilor Kat Bruner James is a member of the Regulations Committee, which reviewed and examined the regulation before recommending it to the council.
“We are excited to take this regulation forward, as recommended by County Commissioner Cavell, to provide equitable access to housing for those in need of Subsidized Coupons – low-income families, seniors, veterans and people with disabilities,” said Bruner James. “I know a lot of people personally who were able to receive vouchers that were then rejected by landlords because of their source of income.”
Cavell is pleased with the progress. “So far we have been warmly welcomed by the churches we have spoken to! Our plan was to connect with communities that would likely quickly appreciate and align with this type of protection, and then use it as validation for communities that may be more skeptical, ”he said.
Discussions with landlords and housing experts were instructive for the inspector. “All this effort showed me how little I knew about my rights as a tenant,” he said. “We also learned through this process how many landlords are just trying to make it and are not aware of the benefits that are available to them through vouchers. In short, many of us may have an opinion on fair housing, but most of us don’t know what it can mean for our communities! “
These advantages for the landlord include the fact that vouchers are a stable source of income. During the pandemic, landlords whose residents paid with vouchers didn’t have to worry about their payments.
“What we are doing here is to end a type of discrimination that harms the weak and the voiceless,” said Commissioner Cavell. “I felt what it was like to be powerless and unheard. It’s a feeling we all want to avoid! But as long as there are forms of discrimination in this country, we will not live our values fully and people will continue to feel powerless. This is important to the district because it removes one of the many remaining forms of discrimination that people go unheard. “
The full text of the regulation can be found on the Ferndale city site.