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Kentucky landlords can deny prospective tenants using federal housing assistance

Louisville skyline
Ryan Van Velzer
Louisville, pictured above, is one of two cities with an ordinance banning source of income discrimination, though the new state law likely undermines those protections.

A new law in Kentucky will allow landlords to deny prospective tenants who use federal housing assistance vouchers to pay rent.

The new law is likely to make it more difficult for people with disabilities, those experiencing homelessness, low-income families and some veterans to access affordable housing.

It also likely negates existing ordinances banning source of income discrimination in Louisville and Lexington.

The cities say the ordinances are essential to dealing with homelessness, but GOP Senate President Robert Stivers said Wednesday zoning and other local policies are to blame for the crisis.

“The city of Louisville and the city of Lexington have a homelessness problem directly related to their bad policies that they’ve passed,” Stivers said.

Other supporters say the government cannot force property owners to participate in federal programs.

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed the measure on Tuesday, saying it would make it harder for some people to access shelter.

“We should never make it harder for someone to obtain a roof over their head, a safe place to call home,” Beshear said.

The Republican controlled General Assembly overrode the governor’s veto on Wednesday.

In the moments before the legislature overrode the veto, Lexington Democratic Sen. Reginald Thomas spoke from the Senate floor.

“House Bill 18 takes away local government control because now the General Assembly wants to dictate how local governments are to act to prohibit discrimination,” he said.

Because of an emergency clause, the law goes into effect as soon as it is received by the Secretary of State.

State government and politics reporting is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Ryan Van Velzer is the Kentucky Public Radio Managing Editor. Email Ryan at rvanvelzer@lpm.org.
Sylvia is the Capitol reporter for Kentucky Public Radio, a collaboration including Louisville Public Media, WEKU-Richmond, WKU Public Radio and WKMS-Murray. Email her at sgoodman@lpm.org.