Should Landlords Be Allowed To Discriminate Against Non-Violent Felons?

The Office of Civil Rights doesn’t seem to think so (and neither do I), and is looking for public input on whether they should push legislation that would prevent landlords from discriminating against tenants with criminal records.

I’ve got a good friend who fucked up and got busted for selling pot a few years ago. In the last month alone, he’s had about a half-dozen different landlords refuse to rent to him.

He’s a good guy, pays his taxes, stays out of trouble, etc. He made a dumb mistake in his early 20s that continues to haunt him.

We’re well past the point of him learning his lesson.


Annnnnyways, here’s the Seattle Times’ story on the matter:

Four years ago, Ranika Smith drove her boyfriend to a shopping center in Everett, not knowing, she said, that he planned to rob a bank.

Even after he got back into the car, she said, he didn’t tell her what he’d done, leaving her to slowly figure it out in the hours that followed. Smith never called police, and in the end she served six months in Snohomish County Jail for second-degree robbery.

In the years since, the 25-year-old Seattle woman has drifted in and out of homelessness as landlords, one after another, have refused to rent to her because of her criminal history.

Social-justice groups and advocates for the homeless say such broad, automatic denial of housing to ex-offenders contributes to homelessness and often leads to recidivism. So does denying them jobs.

They want the city of Seattle to add people convicted of nonviolent and nonsexual crimes to a list of protected classes — making it illegal for landlords and employers to discriminate against them because of their criminal records.

The Seattle Human Rights Commission is hosting a public forum on the proposal at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Garfield Community Center, 2323 E. Cherry St. The city’s Office of Civil Rights will consider that public feedback in drafting a measure that could be presented to the City Council as early as next year.