Erie County Council: Protections from housing, job discrimination could expand

Local News

Erie County Council considers extending discriminatory prohibition to additional groups.

Changes to the Human Relations Commission ordinance would make it a violation to discriminate against individuals seeking housing or employment based on their gender identity, source of income, or criminal history.

Council members discussed how marginalized groups would benefit.

Erie County County Councilman and Finance Committee chairman André Horton said many people have difficulty finding a job, because of criminal histories. He said the same problems arise when searching for a place to live.

“If you’re a convicted felon, a guy commits a crime in his 20s and now he’s 60 and he’s prohibited from living in federal housing or subsidized housing,” said Horton.

But some of the proposed changes are raising concerns.

Councilwoman Carol Loll said, as a landlord, she has experienced challenges with tenants.

“It just gets to the point where it costs you more money to rent to people with a criminal background history like that trying to get them out,” she said.

The council said none of the proposed changes would undermine existing laws, such as tenant and landlord statutes or laws involving sex offenders.

The ordinance heads for a first reading.

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