Mayor signs ordinance expanding housing protections to eliminate ‘21st century discrimination’
Mayor Greg Fischer today signed into law an ordinance approved by Metro Council to expand the city’s ban on non-discriminatory housing practices by adding new classes of protected residents seeking housing.
Under the new law, a person cannot be turned down for housing based on their arrest or conviction history, homeless status, source of income or military service record.
“It’s not enough to fight the legacy of historic discrimination. We must fight harder than ever to put an end to 21st-century discrimination in our city today. And housing, in particular, has been an area where racism and other forms of discrimination still hurt too many people in our city for far too long,” the Mayor said. “This work is particularly critical now, because, as we’ve seen, the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to housing insecurity concerns for people across our city, particularly low-wage workers, often renters, often people of color, whose incomes have been reduced or eliminated.”
Louisville’s ordinances currently provide for non-discriminatory housing practices for protected classes such as race, color, religion, national origin, familial status, disability, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation. The new ordinance, sponsored by Councilwoman Jessica Green (D-1), adds, to the protections the ordinance currently provides, protection against discrimination based on a person’s homeless status, prior military service, criminal history, and source of income such as child support, foster care subsidies, income derived from social security, grants, pension or any form of federal, state or local public assistance or housing assistance.
“I’m proud that this measure is coming to fruition. We need more protections for our city’s renters to successfully find affordable housing without facing unfair treatment from landlords,” Councilwoman Green said. “The need for affordable housing is important and necessary during this era, and this will now eliminate obstacles.”
Kendall Boyd, Louisville’s Chief Equity Officer, praised the additional protections for veterans, many of whom struggle with the city’s shortage of affordable housing and living wage jobs.
“These factors combined with the increased likelihood that veterans will exhibit symptoms of PTSD, substance abuse, or mental illness can compound to put veterans at a greater risk of homelessness than the general population, which subjects them to higher rates of discriminatory housing practices,” Boyd said. “As a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) partner, the Louisville Metro Human Relations Commission must advance and affirmatively further fair housing for these unprotected classes.”
Louisville Metro Housing Authority Director Lisa Osanka added: “Now is the time to address the unfair practices against our city’s renters and provide added protections that help residents find secure, affordable housing. With renters facing so many challenges such as unemployment and a global pandemic, this new law is timely and a step in the right direction.”
Other key sponsors of the bill include Louisville Metro Council President David James and councilmembers Bill Hollander, Barbara Shanklin, Keisha Dorsey and Donna Purvis.