By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU — Members of the city’s public health and safety committee next week will consider changes to Wausau’s housing discrimination ordinance, after seeing an uptick in the number of complaints filed with the city by residents.
Since 2015, Wausau has received four complaints from citizens alleging housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin or “other unlawful bases,” according to city documents. Prior to 2015, such complaints were rare.
While investigating those complaints, city officials said, they realized Wausau’s existing ordinance, in effect since 1985, needed an update. The ordinance hasn’t been updated since 1990.
The proposal under consideration updates definitions of discriminatory practices and would prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person’s status as a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking.
In addition, the proposal calls for the creation of a fair housing review board to review any new complaints, which would then be investigated by the city attorney. The board would include the city’s economic development director, human resources director and city clerk.
Currently, the city’s public health and safety committee determines whether there is probable cause to believe discrimination has occurred.
The committee meets at 5:15 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 26 in council chambers at City Hall.