Providence leaders press housing discrimination ban

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza (left) brought his nine-month old son, Omar to a news conference on housing discrimination, where he was joined by Councilman Michael Correia, Sen. Harold Metts and Rep. Anastasia Williams. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

By Steve Klamkin WPRO News

Hoping to spur action on a statewide ban on housing discrimination against low income residents, Providence leaders are pushing for passage of a city ordinance that would achieve the same goal.

The city ordinance, which has wide support among members of the City Council would prohibit housing discrimination based on what backers call sources of income, such as a housing voucher, Social Security, Supplemental Security income, child support or rental assistance.

“It’s been stigmatized,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “They’re undesired tenants, as I’ve heard many times, and this is just flat out discrimination. You go back 50 years, that’s exactly what they said about African-Americans. You go back 40 years, that’s exactly what they said about Latinos. This is just another pernicious form of discrimination that we want to root out.”

At a news conference at the headquarters of the United Way of Rhode Island, several community leaders and members took aim at property owners who were not present.

“I feel like I’m preaching to the choir,” said State Rep. Anastasia Williams, (D-Providence), who has introduced non-discrimination legislation on the state level for several years.

“Some of these people are so insensitive and bold that they’ll have on their website “Section 8 – don’t even apply”,” said State Senator Harold Metts (D-Providence). “That’s sad that they’re that bold with their discrimination, and these are reasons why we have to stand up.”


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