Home sellers and landlords may no longer refuse potential homebuyers or tenants based on their source of income. Those who dare to do so may face up to $2,500 in daily fines. If the city attorney takes action on the violations, the court may issue a $50,000 fine for a first violation and $100,000 for subsequent violations.
The ordinance mainly offers assurance of guaranteed housing for those who rely on government assistance to acquire housing, such as Section 8 participants. Those eligible for Section 8 housing vouchers include those who are homeless or low income.
The ban even received support from Councilman Sal DiCiccio, often the odd vote out on controversial council issues. DiCiccio was the first to put the proposed ban on the agenda, according to Mayor Kate Gallego.
However, DiCiccio noted that he was voting in favor of the ban only in spirit, not physically, since he gave his word to realtors that he wouldn’t support banning income discrimination for homebuyers.
DiCiccio said income discrimination was a form of institutionalized racism.
“People know I don’t use the race card, I just do not, unless I believe it’s true,” said DiCiccio. “I looked at it more when it came to dealing with the Homeowners Associations who create deed restrictions. Deed restrictions are made to keep people out, not keep people in.”
DiCiccio said that he sees these kinds of gatekeeping even within his own community, which is a majority white, liberal community.
“I was shocked by it. I live in a mixed household myself, and I feel very strongly about it. Diversity does improve your community, it just does. It’s an important factor in our lives. You want as many people around you that have differing viewpoints, differing ideas, different looks,” said DiCiccio. “[Source of income discrimination] is a type of institutionalized racism that I have strong concerns over.”
According to DiCiccio, the Arizona Multihousing Association (AMA) said they would sue the city over this ban. DiCiccio said that the AMA should be ashamed for considering that response. The AMA represents the apartment industry in the state, with over 2,000 members.
“I would be embarrassed if I were them, to threaten to sue the city of Phoenix after what we’ve done for them over the years and taken the lead on,” said DiCiccio. “My plea to you: don’t embarrass yourself.”
Courtney Gilstrap LeVinus, AMA president and CEO, said in a statement to reporters that these kinds of policies would only make the housing crisis worse. LeVinus was critiquing a proposed bills from State Rep. Analisa Ortiz (D-LD24) that would ban income discrimination (HB2085), prohibit landlords from evicting for partial rent payments (HB2083), and allow rent caps (HB2086).
“[These policies are] curtailing the rights of property owners, making it more difficult for companies and mom-and-pop owners to stay in business and to provide homes for individuals and families,” said LeVinus.
Instead, LeVinus proposed reducing bureaucratic rules to improve homebuilding speeds.
“We need to slash away layers of bureaucracy and fight the rampant NIMBYism that makes building new homes such a slow, torturous process,” said LeVinus. “Doing so would address the housing crisis, not make it worse, and help ensure the Arizona economy continues on a steady upward trajectory.”
DiCiccio further claimed that institutions exist which actively discriminate against people attempting to get housing based on the color of their skin.
“A lot of individuals that are poor or people of color in particular are locked out of certain areas. They just are. Either it’s an affordability issue, or you’ve got this institutionalized type of programming in place that does not allow them in there,” said DiCiccio. “I think that’s just sick, personally. I think people should have the ability, freedom to be able to go into those communities that they want to move into. That’s how God made us, they gave us the free ability to move.”
Vice Mayor Yassamin Ansari said that over 15,000 residents were on a waitlist for affordable housing assistance.
“We need to do everything in our power to ensure that our residents have access to adequate housing and that are actually able to utilize the programs that are intended to help them, like Section 8, disability, and others,” said Ansari.
Ansari criticized the state legislature for supporting income source discrimination, mainly referring to the Republican legislators leading an effort to prevent hotels and motels from being required to accept housing vouchers from the homeless. The vice mayor said that the legislators should be spending their time increasing funds for affordable housing projects.
“It’s time for the legislature to do its job so Phoenix can do its job to ensure housing affordability,” said Ansari.
Councilwoman Betty Guadardo said she empathized with the activists present at Wednesday’s council meeting. The councilwoman equated modern income discrimination with the discrimination that people faced during the Civil Rights Era, when homebuyers were discriminated against based on the color of their skin. A large group of activists showed up to speak in favor of the income discrimination ban.
“Discrimination has no place in the city of Phoenix,” said Guadardo.
Guadardo confirmed that the city of Phoenix was following the example of the city of Tucson, which banned landlords from discriminating against potential tenants’ source of income last September.
Ordinances have a 30-day wait period; however, the council is awaiting an opinion letter on the subject from Attorney General Kris Mayes. Should the opinion letter be unclear or unfavorable, then the city would have to reconcile any legal issues before enacting the ordinance. Councilwoman Laura Pastor expressed concern that the legal obstacles would leave the city without the capacity to enforce the ordinance.
“I have been briefed that there is a possibility that we don’t have the capacity to enforce it,” said Pastor.
City Manager Jeff Barton speculated that there may not be enough city staff to enforce the ordinance. However, Barton couldn’t say for sure.
Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio has been posting daily updates on police reporting since September. It’s part of the outgoing councilman’s efforts to apprise citizens of their local law enforcement’s work on a daily basis.
These daily police reports offer details on crimes happening in the community. DiCiccio’s posts offer a small glimpse into their daily work — he doesn’t include the entire report.
DiCiccio’s latest report detailed an aggravated assault on an officer, two robberies, arson, several assaults, a school shooting threat, several misconduct weapons incidents, and several accident investigations.
DiCiccio has also informed constituents of the monthly district crime reports.
Last year, DiCiccio would share these reports as well as updates on police staffing to advise citizens of the rising crime rates combined with staffing shortages.
DiCiccio also informs the community about breaking crime issues, such as a homicide that occurred Monday.
In addition to crime and police-related content, DiCiccio posts about community events like park openings and lifeguard certification classes, dog adoptions, and school board updates.
DiCiccio posts constituent-focused content far more frequently than his fellow council members. The others tend to rely on their monthly district newsletter to inform constituents, with the exception of Councilwoman Yassamin Ansari, who posts more frequently at the rate of several times per week about community events pertaining to her office.
As of this report, Mayor Laura Pastor informed constituents last week about a toy and clothing drive last week, Councilman Jim Waring last tweeted thanks to his voters for reelecting him two weeks ago, Councilwoman Betty Guardado advised constituents to read her district newsletter two weeks ago, Councilwoman Ann O’Brien last retweeted a fire escape plan notice in mid-October, Councilwoman Debra Stark last retweeted in April about her appearance at the Phoenix Fire Department, and Councilman Carlos Garcia last tweeted last November about Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport hiring.
Several council members are more active on Facebook. Their posts mainly reflect community events rather than major updates.
O’Brien encouraged constituents to vote, wished constituents a happy Thanksgiving, and updated constituents on the council’s approval of Metrocenter Mall’s redevelopment.
Waring last posted in October to encourage constituents to vote.
Stark shared her appearances with different groups, recent toy drive involvement, and a call to action for upcoming Habitat For Humanity home repair projects.
Pastor posted about several events: the toy and clothing drive, and an Alzheimer’s benefit.
Guardado posted videos of her attendance at a festival, and involvement in a tree donation event at a park.
Garcia posted an update about their quarterly Laveen Community meeting last week.
The latest Phoenix Police Department (PPD) data indicates that violent crime has increased while property crimes have decreased from last year.
There was an average increase of over 2 percent for violent crimes, and 3 percent decrease for property crimes. Below are the overall crimes year to date, comparing last January to July to this January to July.
According to separate PPD data, there’s also been a decrease in bias crimes from last year. Last January through August, there were 116 crimes motivated by bias. This year, there have only been 13 in total from January through March.
The drop in bias-motivated crimes has been consistent since 2020, when there was a peak of 204 bias-motivated crimes that year. The greatest number of bias-motivated crimes occurred in 2017, reaching a total of 230.
The rise in crime accompanies PPD’s staffing shortages. On Wednesday, the Phoenix City Council discussed the PPD’s efforts to increase hiring. PPD affirmed that they continue to experience net losses: more officers retiring or resigning than being hired.
Currently, PPD has about 2,600 sworn field positions, 80 in academy, 1,000 working and patrolling officers, 20 in training, and 80 in transitional duty assignment. Current retirements and resignations this year are just under 200. Last year, there were 275 retirements and resignations.
However, PPD Assistant Chief of Police Bryan Chapman said that PPD expected to see a turnaround in the near future.
“If you look at a year ago in terms of where we are today, we are in a much better position. Next year we’ll be back to some normalized numbers or an even better position than where we are,” Chapman.
Officer shortage last year resulted in PPD not responding to certain 911 calls.
Watch the Phoenix City Council policy meeting on public safety and justice below:
On Monday, Phoenix City Council Member Sal DiCiccio called for the city to put their COVID-19 vaccine mandate to a public vote. In his letter to City Manager Jeffrey Barton, who made the decision to implement the mandate, DiCiccio insisted that the mandate would only further strain their law enforcement staffing numbers.
“This decision will compromise vital citywide services to our residents, including public safety, which this Council has been aware of the alarming crime data and how the city is struggling to hire and retain personnel. A more thorough determination needs to be made on whether, under federal law, the City of Phoenix and it’s 13,000 employees are considered ‘federal contractors’ for the purposes of this mandate,” wrote DiCiccio. “A discussion and vote on this mandate needs to be held in public not behind closed doors. When this Council is mandating city employees to get vaccinated or else lose their job, pension, and years of service, the least this Council can do is be transparent with our employees.”
The city of Phoenix announced its vaccine mandate last week, giving workers until January 18 to comply. Barton reasoned that the city needed to impose the mandate because a majority of their operations are sourced in federal contracts – a class of employees required to be vaccinated under the Biden Administration. They promised $75 for each employee who complied with the mandate by the deadline – a benefit initially introduced earlier this year as an incentive to get vaccinated, now apparently a thank-you for compliance.
First responder associations signaled their support for efforts to fight Phoenix’s mandate. The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) and The United Phoenix Firefighters Association (UPFA) joined as co-plaintiffs in Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s lawsuit against President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors and employees.
“For us, this issue is not about the vaccine but a concern for the public safety staffing in Phoenix and our members’ right to make their own personal health choices,” stated UPFA. “Forcing first responders out of a job protects no one.”
The PLEA Vice President Yvette Bro asserted that the city mandate would only worsen their staffing shortage.
“We can’t afford to lose one officer,” stated Bro.
City council candidate Sam Stone told AZ Free News that it was unconscionable for city leaders to unilaterally push for a mandate without input from those affected.
“This was a cowardly act by Phoenix politicians,” stated Stone. “They passed the buck because they know vaccine mandates are unpopular, and they want to gut our police force – but aren’t willing to take the blame for either of their poor decisions. Councilman DiCiccio is spot on to call for a public vote.”
Stone also insisted that city employees aren’t federal contractors, tweeting that the legal basis for the mandate was “bunk.” He warned AZ Free News that this mandate would grant the federal government more control over local government.
“Further, the city of Phoenix is not a federal contractor. Forget COVID for a minute, this sets a horrific precedent giving the federal government control over our cities and towns,” said Stone.
City of Phoenix employees will have until January 18, 2022, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The new policy doesn’t offer an exemption for those working remotely. The city explained in its letter to employees that it was complying with President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors, due to the number of contracts held by the city.
As thanks for their compliance, the city will give the vaccinated employee $75. The cash perk was initially used as an incentive this past year. Assuming every one of their over 14,000 employees remains on staff and gets vaccinated, then the city will hand out a total of over a million dollars. As of their latest reports, the city has handed out over 6,900 of their compliance cash.
Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio warned in an interview with KTAR that this mandate would only make the city lose more police officers at a time when their law enforcement is critically manned. He also challenged the city’s rationale that a sweeping mandate was required because they receive federal funds. DiCiccio asserted that the city of Phoenix isn’t a federal contractor.
“I’ve already sent a letter to the city manager asking him to identify exactly which contracts the city of Phoenix has,” said DiCiccio. “I can tell you police, fire and some other personnel with the city of Phoenix are not contractors – that’s a bunch of BS.”
DiCiccio also insisted that the main point of the mandate was to target first responders.
“It’s meant to attack them at various levels: [to] attack them personally, attack their families and now go after them this way,” said DiCiccio.
The councilman’s remarks reflect on the fact that the lowest vaccination rates in the Valley are among police officers and firefighters. Tucson’s vaccine mandate for all city employees – announced in August – hit those first responders the hardest.
As the city revealed this latest policy, companies around Phoenix have been advertising that they are hiring with “no vaccine required.”
City employees may request religious or medical exemptions by December 31 – New Year’s Eve.