News Flash

City Spotlights and News Updates

Posted on: November 9, 2021

Source of Income Protection

sourceofincome

At their November 9 Council Committee Meetings, City Council will be presented with information surrounding source of income protection, including draft legislation. Learn about source of income discrimination and protection from the presentation slides and FAQ below. 

Consideration Timeline

  • July 27 City Council Committee Meeting: Initial Topic Discussion 
    View Presentation Slides
  • October 2021: Landlord Survey Conducted
  • November 9 City Council Committee Meeting: Draft Legislation Introduced
  • November 16 City Council Voting Meeting: First Reading
  • December 7 City Council Voting Meeting: Second Reading
  • December 21 City Council Voting Meeting: Third Reading and Potential Consideration 

About Source of Income Discrimination and Protection 

What is source of income (SOI) discrimination?

SOI discrimination is a practice by which landlords, owners and real estate brokers refuse to rent to prospective tenants seeking to pay for housing with non-wage sources of income (SSI, pension, public assistance, vouchers).

What are potential sources of income that would be protected?

Potential sources of income that are not currently protected, but that would be protected should an ordinance be adopted would include:

  • People with disabilities receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Seniors receiving SSI or income from other retirement programs
  • Lower income households receiving Housing Vouchers
  • Families with children receiving public assistance
  • Veterans benefits
  • People receiving alimony or child support

How would landlords consider non-wage sources of income when determining tenant eligibility and ability to pay rent?

Non-wage sources of income (SSI, pension, public assistance, vouchers) would be considered toward an overall income threshold as part of the regular tenant qualification process. Notably, landlords would be able to maintain market rate rent levels and would not be required to accept lower rent for those with non-wage sources of income. For example:

  • Market Rate Rent = $1,000 / Desired Monthly Income Threshold = 3 months rent
    • Prospective tenant using wages as income:
      • $1,000 X 3 = $3,000/month in wages required to qualify
    • Prospective tenant using non-wage income using $500 a month in a voucher:
      • $1,000 - $500 voucher = $500 X 3 = $1,500/month in wages required to qualify

 Landlords would also be able to consider the tenant’s credit history, past bankruptcy’s, rental/eviction history, pets and status as a smoker/non-smoker as part of their application process. 

Is SOI not already protected?

SOI discrimination is not currently prohibited by federal or state law  (although 18 other states do have such laws, along with 100 other cities and Washington D.C.).

Since Ohio is a home rule state, municipalities can pass laws to govern themselves, including the passage of SOI discrimination legislation that expands protections of the Fair Housing Act. In Central Ohio, the cities of Columbus, Bexley, Reynoldsburg, Westerville and Worthington have all recently passed SOI protection ordinances.

Are individuals actually being denied housing based on their source of income?

Yes. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reports that without SOI protection, prospective tenants (typically from vulnerable populations) are denied rentals at a rate of 78%. With SOI protection, that rate falls below 15% on average.

If adopted, would SOI protection impact the number of Housing Choice Vouchers issued to Whitehall residents specifically?

No. Housing Choice Vouchers are transferable, and so those with vouchers are welcome to move across jurisdictional boundaries like any other tenant/community member. SOI protection may, however, signal to those with Housing Choice Vouchers that the Whitehall is a welcoming community.  Additionally, Central Ohio residents would still apply for the Housing Choice Voucher program through the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority, a Public Housing Agency (PHA), which receives funding from HUD, not the City of Whitehall.

How would the SOI ordinance be enforced should a landlord violate the protections?

The suspected violation would be reported by a prospective/current tenant to the City Attorney’s Office who would investigate the issue further. The incident could potentially escalate to adjudication in Mayor’s Court.

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