Will new legislation conflict with Lexington's proposed source-of-income ordinance? It depends on whom you ask.
A bill that would prohibit Kentucky communities from mandating that landlords rent to tenants using Section 8 vouchers sailed through committee Thursday. But even a leading sponsor is sounding uncertain about its possible effects on Lexington's proposed source-of-income anti-discrimination ordinance.
Lexington is considering following the lead of Louisville and enacting a ban that would prohibit landlords from disqualifying potential renters based on the source of their income, with the main focus being on vouchers.
It would not, however, force landlords to accept Section 8 — the situation Senate Bill 25 would explicitly ban.
On the surface it would appear the source-of-income ordinances and the bill might not actually conflict, but backers of the anti-discrimination measures are lining up against the bill. Lexington council member Shayla Lynch contends — whether there is an outright conflict or not — landlords could get the wrong message.
"It's going to give the green light to landlords to say 'Oh I have a Section 8 tenant but I don't have to take them anymore,' so I think it's gonna be mass evictions and we're going to have more unhoused folks in our community," Lynch told WUKY.
But sponsor Sen. Stephen West says it's unclear if SB 25 would stop Lexington from going forward with the current language in its proposal.
"I honestly don't know if it would conflict with the existing ordinance or proposed ordinances. All I can tell you is that my bill is very, very simple," West explained. "All it does is it says you cannot force a landlord to participate in the federal Section 8 housing program."
The bill easily advanced to the full Senate. West said he's open to adding changes that might clarify how the measure would affect the communities with or considering source-of-income bans.