Who Should Decide When a Fairness Ordinance Isn’t Necessary? – Fair Housing Five for June 3, 2016

Summer’s finally here, and with it is a return to our regularly scheduled Fair Housing Five updates. This month goes border to border as we’ve got fair housing news from Eastern Kentucky to the far western edges of the state (okay, admittedly, it’s a small skip outside of the Kentucky border) and several spots in-between. Thanks again for reading!

  • During a city commissioners meeting in Ashland, KY, in late May, for the first time a city-wide fairness ordinance was requested by a local resident. Samuel Howard, speaking before the commissioners, said that Ashland residents who identify as gay, lesbian, or trans are vulnerable to employment and housing discrimination on the basis of their gender identity and sexual orientation. And while it is true that Ashland passed an ordinance in 2013 to protect residents from housing discrimination on the basis of their gender identity or sexual orientation, no such law exists in the city to protect those same residents from being discriminated against in employment. Although the mayor of Ashland, Chuck Charles, said he doesn’t “see the need at this point” for such a law, (the local paper echoed this sentiment), some city commissioners, like Kevin Gunderson and Amanda Clark, were at least open to exploring the possibility of a fairness ordinance. ‘“[Samuel Howard] is the first person to ask me about a fairness ordinance in 25 years,” Gunderson said, adding that he plans to “read up on it.”’ [The Daily Independent, 2]
  • Did you catch this surprising history that links the Kentucky Derby to the fair housing world? It’s an insightful report from the Boston Globe from 1968 that involves a horse trainer, Martin Luther King, Jr., and some early fair housing advocacy work. It’s got all the makings of a Simon Winchester short-story biography, so be sure to check it out. [Boston Globe]
  • The Lexington mayor’s office announced in May that the city has seen a drop in homelessness by 26%. Mayor Jim Gray attributed the progress to the city’s financial support of several homeless programs, including Lexington’s Office of Homeless Prevention and Intervention as well as the city’s mental health court program. Charlie Lanter, the director of Office of Homeless Prevention and Intervention, explained the work his office has been doing, saying they’ve “been focusing on not just getting people off the streets but also out of the shelter.” He also cited the many options available to rehouse people through the city’s affordable housing program. [Herald-Leader]
  • A new report from WFPL, as part of an on-going investigation of race, ethnicity, and culture in Louisville, has published their findings on which neighborhoods of Louisville remain the most segregated and which neighborhoods have become more integrated. WFPL also created a pretty detailed, interactive map so anyone can see the demographic breakdown of each neighborhood included in their report. Although Louisville can claim the honor of being the first Southern city to adopt an open housing law in 1967, a 2014 report from the Louisville Metro Human Relations Commission stated that 45% of Louisville residents still live in “extreme segregation.” [WFPL, Courier-Journal]
  • Former residents in Cairo, IL – which is located just across the Ohio River on Kentucky’s western border – have filed a fair housing complaint against the local housing authority. The seven former residents allege they were overcharged and were victims of discrimination in the terms and conditions of their tenancy on the basis of their race and familial status. The complaint, which was filed with the East St. Louis federal court, also alleges that the housing authority is guilty of housing segregation. [West Kentucky Star]