Lexington considers ban on Source of Income Discrimination in housing: what you need to know
By Paul Oliva, The Lexington Times
Lexington, KY – On Tuesday, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council’s Social Services and Public Safety Committee will discuss a pressing issue affecting Lexington’s housing market: Source of Income (SOI) Discrimination. Charlie Lanter, Commissioner of the Housing Advocacy and Community Development (HACD), will present a detailed review to local lawmakers, shedding light on how this practice disproportionately impacts vulnerable communities.
What is SOI Discrimination?
SOI Discrimination is the refusal to rent housing to individuals based on their lawful form of income, including Social Security, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, child support, and alimony. According to Lanter’s presentation, this practice significantly restricts the availability of rental units in Lexington.
Who is Affected?
The most significant impact is on vulnerable populations such as those exiting homelessness. In Lexington, 76% of Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers are held by black households. While landlords may not intentionally discriminate based on race, the demographics suggest an indirect effect.
The Case for Legislation
21 states and 119 cities/counties have laws addressing SOI Discrimination, and Lanter proposes that Lexington follows suit by amending the city’s Fairness Ordinance. The change would require landlords to accept all lawful forms of payment, broadening options for renters.
Landlords and Enforcement
The proposal includes clauses to assuage landlords’ concerns. For instance, they are not required to lower rents to voucher amounts or make repairs if a unit fails inspection unless they would for other renters. Enforcement would fall under the Human Rights Commission, focusing on education for the first year.
Lanter also dispels several myths. The proposed changes won’t prevent landlords from considering credit history or criminal records. Nor would they be forced to keep units vacant for unreasonable amounts of time, a significant concern for property owners.
Contrary to popular belief, there’s no evidence that banning SOI Discrimination would result in raised rents. Data from Louisville, which passed a similar ordinance in 2020, showed no measurable impact on rent prices.
The proposal will receive a vote at the Social Services and Public Safety Committee meeting this coming Tuesday at 1 p.m. in Council Chamber. Various stakeholders including landlords, tenants, and housing rights organizations are expected to attend. If the committee advances the ordinance, it will go to the full Urban County Council for final approval.
Thu, December 7, 2023
Lexington’s Palestinian community renews its call for a City Council resolution supporting a ceasefire overseas
Thu, December 7, 2023
Wed, December 6, 2023