HARRISON, Ark. -- This city is considering a major change to its fair housing policy. Four new classes may be protected under a non-discrimination ordinance. Harrison has no ordinance at all right now.
Harrison defers to the federal standards when it comes to housing. Seven classes are covered: race, religion, age, sex, disability, familial status, and national origin. The director of Harrison's Housing Authority wants to add four others for the whole city, two of which spark controversy.
"It was my idea, yeah," said Housing Authority Director Derek White.
White knew it would meet some resistance but he wasn't expecting this: at Thursday night's Harrison City Council meeting, his ordinance, which was up for a first reading and public comment, was tabled before either could happen. For White, it's personal.
"My mom left when I was 5 and left my dad and me high and dry, and my dad worked his tail off getting us. We had to live with my grandparents for a little bit and had a hard time for awhile, so I made a promise to myself that, if I was ever in a position to help people and give them a better opportunity, I would," he said.
That's why, just a few months into his position with HUD, he suggests Harrison beef up its fair housing policy.
"We want to be a proactive leader for the city and be an example for housing. Everybody deserves a chance to live somewhere safe, decent and affordable."
To include everybody, White wants to add sexual orientation, marital status, source of income, and ancestry to the list of protected classes.