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Kansas City landlords can reject tenants for using housing vouchers. Is that about to change?

A "now leasing" sign sits in front of a string of residential rental properties
Blaise Mesa
/
Kansas News Service
An ordinance proposed by Mayor Quinton Lucas would make it illegal for landlords to refuse to rent to tenants because they're on the Housing Choice Voucher Program, known as Section 8.

An ordinance proposed by Mayor Quinton Lucas would make it illegal for landlords to refuse to rent to tenants because they're on the Housing Choice Voucher Program, known as Section 8. If passed, the law would be among the nation's strongest bans on source-of-income discrimination.

Kansas City Council will vote this week on an ordinance that would ban discrimination against tenants who use Housing Choice Vouchers, known as Section 8.

According to the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, 17 states and 85 cities have banned source of income discrimination, which refers to the practice of landlords refusing to accept Housing Choice Vouchers, since 2022.

The citywide tenants union, KC Tenants, worked with Mayor Quinton Lucas to draft the legislation. The group says banning source of income discrimination is the first step to providing affordable housing for working-class tenants.

“We're talking about folks who can pay the rent, they just get that money from someplace different than traditional avenues,” KC Tenants leader Brandon Henderson told KCUR's Up To Date.

The legislation would also make it illegal for landlords to categorically refuse prospective tenants based solely on credit score, prior eviction history, convictions and arrests.

Stacey Johnson-Cosby, local realtor and president of the KC Regional Housing Alliance, said this law would force landlords to do business with the federal government.

“Many times what we find is there are administrative burdens that come with the red tape that comes with doing business with a government entity,” she said. “It's a choice and a risk level that the owner of the property has the choice to make.”

If the ordinance advances out of committee, city council could vote on it as early as Thur., Dec. 14.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
Claudia Brancart is an Up To Date producer for KCUR 89.3. She graduated from Pitzer College in Los Angeles where she majored in World Literature and Studio Art. You can reach her at claudiab@kcur.org.
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