Source of Income Legislation
City Council and members of the Community Relations Commission (CRC) have expressed interest in pursuing legislation preventing source of income (SOI) discrimination in Worthington. In the summer of 2020, the CRC identified SOI as an issue that Worthington should look into, and in May 2021, the City Council directed the CRC to engage in a process to research and explore legislation that would amend the City’s Non-Discrimination ordinance to include housing discrimination based on source of income.
SOI discrimination is the practice of landlords, owners, and real estate brokers refusing to rent to prospective tenants seeking to pay for housing costs with lawful income other than job wages. SOI discrimination affects a broad demographic of individuals and families, but disproportionately affects renters of color, women, and persons with disabilities, and is more prevalent in areas with higher rents, quality schools, transportation services, and jobs.
This type of discrimination essentially prohibits individuals from having access to resource-rich neighborhoods where there are sparse affordable housing options. Research has indicated that there is a close connection between the neighborhood that children grow up in and their future outcomes. Families that relocate to lower-poverty neighborhoods, with the help of various assistance programs, see improved health outcomes, higher incomes, and greater rates of college attendance.
Learn more about why source of income legislation is important to help bring more diversity to the Worthington community in this special featured column in This Week News.
For any questions or to share your thoughts, please contact Management Assistant Ethan Barnhardt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-786-7347.
- Why is SOI Legislation Needed?
- Why is Worthington Considering the Adoption of SOI Legislation?
- Who Does SOI Discrimination Affect?
- What Types of Income are Potentially Affected?
- What Are Some Examples of Practices That Will Be Prohibited?
- How Does SOI Affect Landlords?
- Will There Be Additional Responsibilities for Landlords?
- What Will Be the Complaint Process for Those Who Believe They Have Been Discriminated Against?
SOI discrimination by landlords is not prohibited under the Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 or under Ohio fair housing laws. This means that landlords can choose not to accept income from a variety of sources for various reasons including perceived bureaucratic red tape, misconceptions about tenants, or personal prejudices.
Worthington has a long tradition of inclusion and respect for people of diverse backgrounds. By prohibiting housing discrimination based upon someone’s source of income, Worthington would further solidify itself as a community that values equality and non-discrimination that is welcoming of all people.
SOI discrimination affects a diverse population of prospective renters, particularly people of color, women, and persons with disabilities. Central Ohio and Worthington are facing a highly competitive real estate market, and the region has a persistently high poverty rate that causes many vulnerable groups to struggle to find housing in high-opportunity and resource rich neighborhoods, providing people with more housing choices. SOI legislation will begin to break down barriers due to housing discrimination.
Renters at risk of discrimination receive income from a variety of sources that include veterans’ benefits, social security benefits, disability income, public assistance, and rental assistance programs such as housing vouchers. Additionally, income sources such as unemployment, retirement/pension payments, trusts, and child/spousal support have been difficult for renters to use among some landlords.
Landlords cannot advertise or state a preference for tenants with certain sources of income, or refuse an application, charge a higher rent, or treat a prospective tenant differently based upon their income source. Properties also may not falsely be represented as being unavailable for tenancy because the prospective tenant will be using a specific type of income to pay rent.
Landlords will not be mandated to accept every prospective tenant with non-wage income and will continue to have the ability to use regular tenant qualification processes. SOI legislation would make it so a prospective tenant with non-wage income would have equal opportunity to rent a property and could not be discriminated against based upon their income source. It is important to note that landlords are not required to accept lower rent if the payment standard from the program administrator is less than market rent.
Depending on the type of income being used, landlords may have to complete paperwork and undergo an inspection process to accept certain types of assistance. Inspections ensure that the property meets housing quality standards including things such as sanitary facilities, smoke detectors, working plumbing, sound structure, and locks on each window and door. Afterwards, landlords may then be responsible for annual re-inspections to remain compliant.
People who believe they have been discriminated against because of a protected characteristic, such as source of income, may file a charge with the Worthington City Clerk and the Law Director or their designee will proceed with an investigation. If it is determined that discrimination occurred, a cease-and-desist order and/or fine may be issued.
|The CRC held a panel discussion on Tuesday, June 8th featuring Reynoldsburg Councilmember Shanette Strickland, Amy Klaben with Strategic Opportunities, and Jerry Valentine with Renter Mentor.|
A video recording of the discussion can be found here.
Timeline for Adoption of Legislation
After a series of public discussions, Q&A opportunities, and a survey of Worthington landlords, draft legislation is being finalized and is expected to be introduced at the July 6, 2021 City Council meeting. A public hearing is expected to take place at the July 19 Worthington City Council meeting, where Council will hear public testimony and consider adoption of the new legislation.
Background Information and Documents
- Worthington Source of Income Frequently Asked Questions
- April 29, 2021 - Council Memo on Source of Income Discrimination Background and Proposed Framework for Adoption
- May 2, 2021 - Staff Presentation to Worthington City Council on Source of Income Discrimination
- June 1, 2021 - Mailer Sent to Worthington Landlords
- Ohio Housing Finance Agency - Source of Income Discrimination
- Ohio Attorney General - Fair Housing Guide for Landlords
- US Department of Housing and Urban Development - Housing Discrimination Under the Fair Housing Act