Source of Income Discrimination Ban Passed by Urban County Council

On February 15th, Council passed the source of income (SOI) discrimination ban ordinance in a 13-2 vote. At-large Councilmember Chuck Ellinger and District 8 Councilmember Fred Brown were the two no votes.

SOI discrimination is when a landlord refuses to lease a housing unit to a tenant based on their lawful source of income. This ordinance aims to provide additional housing options for people who don’t receive their income from an employer. Other sources of income could include:

  • Social Security
  • Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers
  • Other program vouchers, including VASH for veterans
  • Child Support
  • Alimony

In the Social Services and Public Safety Committee meeting over this ordinance in January 2024, Councilmember Whitney Elliott Baxter amended the ordinance remove language extending SOI discrimination protections to homebuyers. According to David Barbery of LFUCG’s Department of Law, home purchases are primarily regulated by the Federal government, and sufficient SOI protections exist at the Federal level for homebuyers using voucher programs; this amendment, then, would have little to no impact on home purchases using third-party sources of income.

The ordinance is set to take effect in just a couple of weeks on March 1st. However, whether it can actually be enforced will depend on the passage of House Bill 18 in the Kentucky State Legislature.

House Bill 18, filed by Representative Ryan Dotson, who represents Clark County and part of Fayette County, would prevent local governments from enforcing SOI discrimination bans that prevent landlords from refusing to rent to tenants participating in a federal housing assistance program.

  • If this bill passed, Lexington would not be able to include federal assistance programs in its SOI discrimination ban, but could potentially enforce one dealing with sources of income such as child support, alimony, or other income sources that are not federal assistance programs.
  • Senate Bill 25, filed by Senator Stephen West, was passed by the State Senate. It would also have limited Lexington’s ability to enforce an SOI discrimination ban. According to WUKY, it seems that SB25 will not be passed in the House. Rather, both the House and Senate will focus on passing HB 18.

HB 18 was passed by the full Kentucky House of Representatives on January 23rd. It passed out of the Kentucky Senate’s State and Local Government Committee on February 24th with an amendment adding language stating local governments cannot enforce any laws concerning landlords and tenants that are in conflict with State law. HB 18 is scheduled to be voted on by the full State Senate today, February 20th.

  • If passed in the Senate, the bill will need to go back to the House of Representatives for another vote. Since the Senate amended the bill, the House has to vote again on the new version.
  • If it passes out of the House again with no further amendments, it will be sent to Governor Beshear to either sign or veto. If vetoed, a vote will likely occur in both legislative chambers to override the Governor’s veto and finally enact the bill into law.
  • HB 18 has an emergency clause, meaning it will take effect as soon as it is finally passed.

If HB 18 is passed, the Urban County Council will likely have to amend the SOI discrimination ban ordinance to come into compliance with HB 18. Councilmembers Chuck Ellinger, Fred Brown, Whitney Elliot Baxter, and Kathy Plomin all expressed concerns about passing the ordinance while the State legislature was looking to pass bills impacting it. Despite supporting two failed attempts to table the ordinance’s vote until March, Councilmembers Baxter and Plomin voted to pass the ordinance.


Republished from CivicLex.

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