Kansas City takes historic step to combat housing discrimination

Date:

Kansas City, Missouri – In Kansas City, a new rule, Ordinance No. 231019, says that landlords cannot refuse tenants based on the method they use to pay their rent. This law also adds protections for various groups including elderly people on social security, disabled veterans, workers earning tips, students with stipends, and low-income families using housing vouchers. The ordinance is part of the city’s broader effort to ensure everyone can find safe and affordable housing.

The law was championed by Mayor Quinton Lucas, Mayor Pro Tem Ryana Parks-Shaw, and Councilmembers Andrea Bough, Eric Bunch, Darrell Curls, and Johnathan Duncan. They led the initiative to eliminate income source discrimination in housing within the city.

“Banning housing discrimination based on a tenant’s source of income is a vital tool in ensuring affordable housing opportunities for all,” said Mayor Quinton Lucas. “If renters can legally pay their rent, it shouldn’t matter how they pay their rent. Having known housing insecurity in my own life, I am proud of our staff and our policies that are helping ensure every Kansas Citian has a place to call home.”

“The ban of source of income discrimination is a crucial step in ensuring fair and equal access to secure housing for all individuals. Access to stable housing not only prevents houselessness but significantly enhances the quality of life, health outcomes, educational opportunities, and economic stability and fosters inclusive and diverse communities. For the individuals and families living in our communities, knowing each day that they are able to return to safe and stable housing could mean the difference between a continued cycle of setbacks and thriving,” said Eric Bunch, 4th District Councilman.

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“The best policy solutions are built by and for those who are closest to the problems. This policy was informed by tenants who have been directly impacted by source of income discrimination, and that’s why I am so excited about it. For tenants with limited housing opportunities, this ban on source of income discrimination will make the difference between a tenant having a home or becoming homeless,” said Johnathan Duncan, 6th District Councilman.

Ordinance No. 231019 stops housing discrimination related to the payment method used by tenants, offering important safeguards for vulnerable community members. This ordinance additionally prevents landlords from rejecting tenants based on their criminal history, credit score, or past evictions.

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Individuals listed below would be safeguarded against discriminatory practices:

  • Veterans receiving VA Disability Compensation
  • Victims of domestic violence receiving rental assistance vouchers
  • Seniors on Social Security or disability
  • Students using college stipends
  • Workers who earn tipped wages
  • Union workers on strike
  • Landlords who experience damages to units or increased administrative costs

In addition to strengthening tenant protections, landlords of tenants receiving housing subsidies can file a claim with the Housing Department for eligible damages in their units. Landlords will be able to file their claims later this year.

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How to File a Complaint:

People who think they have been harmed by discrimination can visit KCMO.gov/SOI to learn more about the protections offered and to submit a complaint. Complaints can also be made by emailing the Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Department (CREO), visiting their office during business hours, calling 311, or using the myKCMO app and selecting the “discrimination report” tab followed by “tenant and housing discrimination.”

A valid complaint needs to include crucial details like the name and address of the accused party and specific information about the incident. The director might ask for more information to help with a detailed investigation.

It’s important to remember that complaints related to Chapter 213, RSMo, or similar ordinances must be filed within 180 days from when the discriminatory action could reasonably have been discovered.

The law has received strong support from over 30 community groups, unions, neighborhood associations, service providers, and housing providers, highlighting the city’s dedication to promoting fairness, dignity, and inclusivity in housing.

The chart below illustrates the discrimination in housing investigation process. For more information on this ordinance, to file a complaint, and for Soure of Income Discrimination FAQs, visit KCMO.gov/SOI.

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