By TONYA MOSLEY
SEATTLE - Right now, people can't be denied jobs or housing because of race, sex or disability. Should those with a record be a part of that class?
"We're people we're not monsters. We've just made a different type of mistake than someone else," said 34-year-old [name withheld], who served 4 years in prison for drugging and raping his estranged wife.
[name withheld] is currently living in a house with five other men, all of them convicted felons. His landlord, Jim Tharp, was the only one who would rent to him. [name withheld] says he actually understands why other landlords would turn him away.
"You group people into classes, even criminals. It's not the class you have to look at, it's the individual and how are you going to look at the individual?" he said.
Julie Nelson with the Seattle Office for Civil Rights thinks landlords should take that time to look at the individual and not just the checked box on the application.
"Once people have done their time we want them to be successful and people cannot be successful if they cannot find housing or employment," she said.
Nelson believes landlords should take the discussion further with the potential tenant.
Landlord Jim Tharp says it's not that simple.
"I don't think it's fair to the landlord or to the most recently released person," he said.
The men who live in Tharp's house are all in therapy, with strict rules. They're learning how to re-enter society. Tharp thinks more programs like this are what ex-convicts really need.
"I don't want to see the city asking landlords to take on something they have no ability to deal with," he said.
Under the provision, Nelson says those who have an arrest record for minor crimes would also be protected. The city is looking for public input, a meeting will be held Wednesday, March 16, from 6-8 p.m. at Seattle City Hall.