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Athens City Council building located at 8 E Washington in Athens, Ohio.

City Council: Prevention of discrimination based on income discussed

Athens City Council met in committee Monday to discuss amending Athens City Code language to prevent discrimination based on source of income.

Councilwoman Arian Smedley, D-1st Ward, proposed adding “source of income” to the Unlawful Discriminatory Practices ordinance, an ordinance that already prevents discrimination based on race, religion, marital status, ancestry and sexual orientation, among other things.

Senior Staff Attorney at Southeastern Ohio Legal Services and Program Coordinator for Appalachian Ohio Fair Housing Project Peggy Lee spoke to Council about how the language addition could help families participating in the Housing Choice Voucher Program under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That program helps low-income persons to rent from private rental markets. 

“For ‘source of income’ to be added to your ordinance would be at least a step in the right direction to help those who badly need affordable housing,” Lee said. 

Council also discussed requiring commercial developments to have 50% of their plants be native species in their landscaping. City projects must have 75% of their landscaping be native species. Councilwoman Chris Fahl, D-4th Ward, also suggested a “Celebration Tree Program,” where citizens can have native trees planted in specific areas of Athens.

Fahl also discussed the addition of a “Pollinator Friendly Front Yard Program,” which would require citizens to have three seasons of pollinator-friendly blooms and reduce pesticide and herbicide use in gardens.

“This is really important because there’s this pollinator apocalypse that’s happening right now,” Fahl said. “Two out of three species of plant food that we rely on across the globe is pollinated by pollinator species, and pollinators are being lost at an astounding rate.”

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