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Government & Politics

Housing Discrimination Legislation Provides New Protections for Akron Renters

photo of "For Rent" sign
Carter Adams
/
WKSU
New laws might put some renters in Akron more at ease. They protect renters from housing discrimination related to the sources of rent money and allow them to stay in their homes further into the eviction process, if they're paying their landlords money that's due.

Renters in Akron now have new protections to safeguard them from housing discrimination.

Akron City Council passed pay-to-stay and source-of-income protections. Source of income prevents landlords from treating a tenant differently because they get housing assistance. Pay-to-stay requires landlords to accept back-rent and late fees if renters can come up with the money before an eviction is finalized.

Councilman Shammas Malik, one of the sponsors of the legislation, says although it may have taken council a year to get to this point, there’s still more work to be done.

“This can’t be, 'We do these two things and then we’re done.' That’s not sufficient," Malik said. "We need to use this as a jumping off point to have a broader conversation about the housing crisis we have in Akron. I think sometimes these conversations are hard and difficult and tense, but I ultimately think that it’s important that we have them.”

Malik explains that renters who participate in programs such as social security, disability or rental assistance have a much more limited stock of housing options to choose from that are often located in areas of highly-concentrated poverty and are more at-risk of being the target of discrimination. Malik says that this discrimination also "operates as a pretext for racial discrimination because those neighborhoods are very often disproportionately black neighborhoods, and voucher-holders are disproportionately black female-headed households."

Malik hopes this legislation will open up new opportunities for renters in neighborhoods where poverty is not as concentrated, and quality affordable housing is more available.