January 11, 2009

More on proposed Fair Housing ordinance

A couple of commenters raised questions about the city's proposed Fair Housing ordinance. Here's a little more information on the proposal:

1. You can read through the ordinance here(it's toward the end of the file).

2. Basically, the new commission would have significant enforcement power. They'll lead investigations of alleged discrimination, interview witnesses and turn over cases to the City Attorney's office for prosecution. Hard to say what the costs to the city will be. The ordinance allows the complainant to recover legal fees.

In research, one of the most common complaints is landlords turning away parents with children. A case in Milwaukee was recently settled for $18,000.

I'm not sure how many cases involve race, but the ordinance also requires the commission to keep landlords' names confidential unless they're found in violation of the fair housing ordinance. So, it seems likely all complaints will be locked out of public view until a decision is made on the case (a lot like complaints filed with the Police and Fire Commission).

3. This will give the Affirmative Action commission A LOT more responsibility. The commission will have real investigative and enforcement power to check fair housing discrimination. It seems like that's going to take a great deal of training for the commissioners charged with investigating complaints.

4. If I'm reading the proposed ordinance correctly, it'll have some teeth. Violators could be fined up to $25,000 plus court costs for first-time offenses. Additional offenses could net $50,000 fines.

5. The ordinance is sitting right now with the Office of the General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The office is expected to make changes before sending it back for final approval.

6. The City Council held a public hearing on the proposal on July 15. Nobody appeared at the hearing.


  1. Would that include the CEO's who get 7/7 figure salaries, bonuses, etc.