Legislature Overrides Governor’s HB 18 Veto — Lexington’s Source of Income Ordinance is on Pause


Today, both the Kentucky State House of Representatives and the State Senate voted to override Governor Andy Beshear’s veto of House Bill 18.

Sponsored by Representative Ryan Dotson, HB 18 would prohibit local governments from enforcing source of income discrimination bans that prevent landlords from refusing to rent to tenants participating in any federal housing assistance program. This means that Lexington’s recently adopted source of income discrimination ban ordinance will be mostly unenforceable.

The biggest effect of HB 18 on Lexington’s ordinance is that landlords will be able to deny tenants based on their use of Section 8 vouchers, or other Federal voucherssuch Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing vouchers. Most vouchers are held by low-income individuals and marginalized groups.

  • In Lexington, 76% of Section 8 vouchers are held by Black households.

  • Vouchers offered through the Lexington Housing Authority, including vouchers for veterans, foster families, and those needing emergency housing, have high use rates. 83%-100% of their available vouchers are being used.

Local landlords objected to Lexinton’s ordinance, arguing that Section 8 and other programs require onerous inspections and administrative paperwork that can lead to long delays in them being able to collect rent payments.

The Lexington Human Rights Commission is charged with enforcing Lexington’s source of income discrimination ban ordinance. While the ordinance took effect March 1st, they have not begun enforcement at the advice of Lexington’s Department of Law, choosing instead to wait until HB 18 was eventually passed and see how Council reacts.

The Department of Law will soon bring an amended version of the source of income discrimination ban ordinance to Council for consideration. While HB 18 would prohibit source of income discrimination protections for Section 8 and any other Federal housing vouchers, there are forms of income protected by Lexington’s ordinance that are not Federal vouchers and appear to be unaffected by HB 18. Those include but are not limited to alimony, child support, Social Security and pension payments, and local housing assistance from LFUCG or non-profit organizations. There is no information currently available on how prevalent housing discrimination against non-voucher incomes is in Lexington.

An amended version of the ordinance would likely leave language protecting those sources of income intact, while either removing language concerning Federal vouchers, or adding language clarifying that Federal vouchers are not protected under the ordinance.

Council will soon vote to approve $150,000 in housing assistance funding to pay first month’s rent and a security deposit on a housing unit for families identified as homeless by Fayette County Public Schools. This assistance program will be operated by Goodwill. An amended ordinance could protect recipients of funding from Goodwill, or other agencies that provide housing assistance such as Community Action Council, from housing discrimination based on their initial payments coming from a non-profit organization.

Republished from CivicLex.

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Adrian Paul Bryant is CivicLex’s Civic Information Specialist, reporting on City Hall meetings and local issues that affect Lexingtonians every day. Raised in Jackson County, Adrian is a lifelong Kentuckian who is now proud to call Lexington home.