Kentucky bill would restrict source of income bans. What it means for Lexington’s efforts

A bill filed in the Kentucky legislature would ban local governments from prohibiting landlords from discriminating against people who use federal housing vouchers and other types of payment for rent.

The bill comes as the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council is set to debate an ordinance banning discrimination by landlords based on source of income later this month.

The local proposal would prohibit landlords from advertising they don’t take certain types of housing vouchers, including Housing Choice vouchers, formerly referred to as Section 8. Those vouchers can be used to pay rent or part of rent by lower-income renters.

Councilman David Sevigny, one of the sponsors of the local legislation, said the council will still take up the issue despite the potential state legislation.

Sevigny said the council will likely vote on the proposal at a Jan. 23 Social Services and Public Safety Committee meeting. Sevigny said there is no guarantee the state legislation will pass. The council has been discussing the issue for months, including holding a public hearing on the proposal in November.

Louisville is the only other Kentucky city with a similar ban on discrimination against renters who use other means other than income to pay rent. Source of income bans can also cover other types of payment including alimony, child support or social security.

Rep. Ryan Dotson, R-Winchester, filed House Bill 18 earlier this week. The bill not only prohibits local governments from enacting source of income bans but would also prohibit governments from collecting emergency service fees from landlords if there is a tenant in a building.

Dotson previously said this fall he would file the legislation. It had not yet been assigned to a committee as of Wednesday. Dotson did not immediately return an email asking for comment.

Those who back a source of income ban say too few landlords in Fayette County take federal housing vouchers or types of payments. Homeless people have been stuck on the streets and in shelters because service providers can’t find housing using vouchers or other types of funding.

Landlords who have opposed the ban say taking federal housing vouchers is often a cumbersome and unreliable process. Some have said rents will rise so landlords won’t have to take vouchers. Supporters have countered cities and states with source of income bans have not seen rents rise more than cities and states that don’t have bans.