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Officials, community groups push to end housing discrimination in Kalamazoo

Posted at 10:41 PM, Feb 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-24 22:41:33-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich — Housing discrimination was the focus of discussion at the special work session in Kalamazoo Monday.

Vice Mayor Patrese Griffin is leading the effort when it comes to a proposed overhaul of Kalamazoo's Chapter 18 Ordinance regarding housing. She worked with community groups and the city attorney to draft the language to prevent residents- specifically people of color- from the following issues when it comes to searching for housing:

Educational affiliation
Source of income
Status as a victim of domestic violence
Personal identification method
Prior arrests or conviction record

“We often don’t talk about the barriers that people are up against when they’re trying to get into housing,” said Griffin.

As proposed, the ordinance will ask landlords to look at things on a case-by-case basis. Some of the landlords at Monday's meeting had concerns regarding that portion of the proposal.

"We cannot say one eviction is not okay. Okay, how many is okay? Is two not okay?" asked one landlord during public comment. "You’ve told us what we cannot do. You have not told us what we can do.”

The additional enforcements would involved a civil rights board that would oversee the issues and recommend them to the city manager for enforcement. Violators could see increased fines.

No decision regarding the proposal was made on Monday.

Community meetings will be held in the coming weeks for additional public input.