Justice

Kalamazoo City considering housing discrimination policy

City commissioners held a town hall meeting Monday to answer questions about the proposal.

A proposal in front of Kalamazoo City commissioners would ban landlords from discriminating against people who have been to jail. It would protect renters using housing vouchers. And it would set up a board to field civil rights complaints against landlords.

City commissioners fielded questions from residents Monday – virtually, of course.

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Among the proposals, according to an article on MLive, is a rule to prevent landlords from using a “blanket policy” to eliminate prospective tenants. That could include rejecting any applicant who has ever been convicted of a felony.

City Attorney Clyde Robinson said the proposed restriction is meant to push landlords to look at an individual applicant rather than rejecting them as a group.

“What we’re asking you to do is make an individual assessment when looking at people’s backgrounds and credentials,” he said during the meeting.

Another part of the policy would create a civil rights board to look at complaints from tenants or applicants for housing. That board would determine whether the complaint is worthy of investigation and would make a recommendation to the city manager. From there, another department, such as the Department of Public Safety, could be instructed to follow up on the complaint.

You can view the full town hall meeting here.

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