Lexington Council committee gets a briefing on rental source of income discrimination ban
Lexington’s City Council is reviewing a proposal to ban source of income discrimination with rental housing. The Social Services and Public Safety Committee took up the matter Tuesday. If enacted, the ordinance would prohibit landlords from refusing to rent to someone solely based on a lawful form of income.
Housing Advocacy and Community Development Commissioner Charlie Lanter said if few landlords accept Section 8 housing vouchers, then potential renters have their pool of options restricted.
“Their housing search takes longer. Oftentimes the folks we’re working with are homeless, whether on the streets or in a shelter, and have a voucher, and they can’t find anywhere to use it. We’ve had folks homeless as long as 120 days with a voucher in hand and no one would rent to them,” said Lanter.
Lanter noted the ban on source of income discrimination would cover social security, child support, alimony, and various housing vouchers. He added the limited number of landlords accepting vouchers currently are found north of Main Street.
Lanter said the vast majority of Lexington landlords don’t accept vouchers. Council Member Whitney Baxter asked Lanter if such a ban would change the inspection process for all landlords.
“No, just when you’re working with a tenant who has a voucher. If another tenant walks in and they’re not using a voucher, then no there would be no inspection.”
Lanter said this change would mean more access to apartment units. However, he says this wouldn’t solve affordable housing issues or prevent evictions. He told committee members rent hasn’t increased in other towns with the ban on source of income discrimination.
The Housing Advocacy Commissioner told Council members such a ban could be attached to the current Fairness Ordinance and be enforced by the local Human Rights Commission.
The committee plans to hear from tenants and landlords at a November 14th public hearing.
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