Source of Income Discrimination Ordinance Passes Out of Committee

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Last Tuesday, the Social Services and Public Safety Committee passed a Source of Income (SOI) Discrimination ban ordinance.

  • What is source of income discrimination? The City of Lexington defines SOI discrimination as refusing to lease a housing unit to a tenant based on their lawful source of income, such as Section 8 vouchers, alimony payments, child support, or other third-party payments. You can read our previous coverage of the issue here and here.

An amendment to the ordinance filed by Councilmember Whitney Elliott Baxter was passed to remove language extending SOI discrimination protections to homebuyers. David Barbery of LFUCG’s Department of Law told Councilmembers that home purchases are primarily regulated by the Federal government, and he believed that sufficient SOI protections existed at the Federal level for homebuyers using voucher programs; this amendment, then, would have little to no impact. You can read the amendment language here.

Councilmembers Dave Sevigny, Jennifer Reynolds, and Tayna Fogle opposed the amendment out of concern that it would communicate to voucher-holders that they should not be able to purchase a home.

Councilmembers Baxter, Chuck Ellinger, and Fred Brown voted against the SOI discrimination ordinance in the final vote, all citing concerns over Council passing an ordinance that could potentially be overridden by the State Legislature.

The two bills filed in the State Legislature that could limit or nullify Lexington’s proposed SOI discrimination ban, House Bill 18 and Senate Bill 25, have both passed their respective Chambers.

  • HB 18 passed the State House of Representatives last Tuesday. It still needs to be voted on by the State Senate, after which it will either be signed or vetoed by the Governor.

  • SB 25 was passed by the State Senate last Wednesday. It still needs to be voted on by the House of Representatives, after which it will either be signed or vetoed by the Governor.

Councilmembers Sevigny, Gray, and Fogle stressed the importance of acting to pass the ordinance quickly, stating that too many people with vouchers are unable to find housing now, and the Council should prioritize assisting them as soon as possible.

The Source of Income Discrimination Ordinance will be in Tuesday’s Council Work Session report out from the SSPS Committee. It will likely be on the docket for First Reading in Thursday’s Council Meeting, where the ordinance is read aloud to Council but no vote takes place. It will receive a final vote from the full Council on its Second Reading.

  • Typically, Second Reading votes happen one full week after First Reading. However, Council can choose to suspend the rules and have a Second Reading vote on the same day as the First Reading.

Tuesday’s Council Work Session will be held on Tuesday, January 30th at 3pm. Thursday’s Council Meeting will be held on Thursday, February 1st at 6pm. You can attend in-person or watch live on LexTV.

Republished from CivicLex.

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