Akron City Council Passes Legislation To Prohibit Housing Discrimination Based On Source Of Income



Akron, Ohio, May 12, 2021 — On Monday, Akron City Council passed two pieces of housing legislation aimed at protecting Akron renters against discrimination. The legislation (sponsored by Mayor Horrigan, President Sommerville, and Councilpersons Samples and Malik) received the support of all 10 members of Council who voted on the legislation, with the remaining 3 members (Councilpersons Neal, Freeman, and Connor) abstaining.

These laws, commonly referred to as “pay to stay” and “source of income protections” were introduced on April 5, 2021. Following several weeks of debate and discussion, both pieces were amended and improved based on feedback received.

The legislation enacted will do the following:

  • Prohibit housing discrimination based on any individual’s lawful source of income. For example, a landlord would be prohibited from treating a prospective tenant differently (e.g. refusing to review their application) simply because they receive housing assistance from a government or non-profit source. Tenants using non-traditional forms of payment can still be rejected or evicted for any non-discriminatory reason.

  • Require landlords to accept full payment of back-owed rent and late fees if a tenant provides the funds before an eviction action is finalized. Eviction actions can still proceed on any other relevant basis (e.g. failure to comply with lease terms, damage to property, etc.).

  • Limit fees for late rent to $25 or 8% of the monthly rental amount, whichever is larger.

“I want to thank the members of Akron City Council for their thoughtful deliberation of this legislation, and for ultimately voting to protect Akron residents from harmful discrimination that perpetuates housing segregation and limits some families’ access to appropriate housing options,” Mayor Dan Horrigan said. “These laws strive to force us to see one another as individuals, and not through the lens of stereotypes. I hope this conversation has forced all of us to truly examine what is meant when we hear or talk about ‘those people.’ All Akron families deserve the freedom to choose the neighborhood and home that meets their needs—within their means—regardless of where their legal income comes from. And all Akron children deserve the opportunity to grow up in neighborhoods and homes that are safe, healthy, and connected. This legislation gets us one step closer to that goal.”

Akron has one of the highest eviction rates in the state of Ohio at 6.06% in 2016, which is nearly double the state average of 3.49%. That is equal to 6.81 evictions per day. According to Akron municipal court data, there were between 3,400 and 4,000 evictions each year between 2014 and 2019. To address this problem, Fair Housing Contact Service, Inc. convened an Eviction Task Force, which has made several recommendations for policy changes, including support for the ordinances adopted this week. “I want to thank all our residents and community partners who stepped up to voice their support for these needed protections—your education and advocacy efforts made a difference,” Mayor Horrigan said.

“The pandemic has brought to the forefront some long-standing issues with housing segregation and discrimination against low-income Akronites, and disproportionately households of color,” Council President Margo Sommerville added. “Now, with these legal protections in place, we must start the necessary process of working with landlords, renters, and community partners to ensure these laws are more than just words on paper.”

Complaints of source of income discrimination will be investigated by the Akron Civil Rights Commission. Information about how to file a complaint is available at akronohio.gov/acrc or by calling (330) 375-2030.

The Reporter Newspaper