LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — Lexington leaders meet once again to tackle the problem of a housing shortage for people with lower incomes. One possible solution is forcing landlords to accept federal vouchers as payment.
The Lexington Fayette Urban County Government Center was filled with dozens of community members. They came to voice their concerns about an ordinance that prohibits discrimination in housing based on source of income. The council was presented with this proposed ordinance in October.
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One section of the ordinance (Section 8) would prevent landlords from turning away low-income people who use federal housing vouchers or third-party payments as an option.
Steve Katz, who favors the ban, said, “The stability that comes from having a decent place to live gives people hope to keep our community together. banning source of income discrimination could mean that families will have more choice to live in neighborhoods where their children can better thrive, and it also means that less resources have to be spent on social services. “
“Voucher programs like Section 8 also have a three-year waiting list, and then when you finally do get a voucher, no one takes it, and this leads to homelessness. The streets are full of people with untreated health issues, and housing is health care,” said Casey Lyons, who is also in favor of the ban.
Landlord Chris Johnson said he has accepted 13 vouchers over the last seven years, and it’s been a mostly negative experience.
“I still have two section eight tenants today, one of which is great and one which has never paid rent on time to date. I’ve experienced multiple delays in payments, loss of payments, and from the administration in the voucher program, I’ve had multiple tenants ultimately destroying my properties on several occasions,” said Johnson. “You’re opening the door for us landlords to be sued for discrimination. When the majority of landlords I know are protecting their businesses, I believe this bill will not only hurt landlords but also hurt people trying to help.”
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Even if the city requires landlords to accept vouchers, social workers say that doesn’t solve the bigger problem of a shortage of affordable places to live.
The ordinance will be discussed again at a public hearing in the government center at 6 p.m. on Thursday.