Two Last-Minute Thoughts on the Section 8 Proposal

Posted by Stephen Marshall on

So, today’s the day. This evening at 6:00 the LFUCG Social Services and Public Safety Committee will hear public comment on the proposed ordinance that would require housing providers to accept all forms of lawful income, including two very problematic sources: Section 8 vouchers and income from other individuals.

I’ve already said most of what needs to be said about this issue, but I do want to comment on a couple of points in case I’m not able to speak tonight at the meeting. My daughter has a basketball event, so I won’t be able to stay at the meeting very long.


Ladies and gentlemen of the Committee, I ask you to reflect deeply on the question of why many housing providers are not willing to accept vouchers. Many want you to believe that it’s a racial thing or socio-economic thing. I don’t believe that. I submit to you that it’s because the Section 8 process doesn’t work for them.

The Section 8 program is not new. We’re not hypothesizing about some theoretical new program. We’re talking about a program with a long history and with which housing providers are very familiar. We don’t have to speculate about how it’s going to work. It is a known quantity.

So here’s the fact: if the Section 8 program was a winner for housing providers, they’d be flocking to it. There would be no need for the incentives that have been being offered for those who joint. And there certainly would be no need for mandated participation. 

Programs that work well do not need to be mandated. As I noted last month, housing providers are business people. If the Section 8 program was profitable for them, they’d be all about it.

That doesn’t mean the people at the housing authority are bad people. Like every organization, they have good employees and some that are not so good. Sometimes those employees have to be let go because they don’t do their jobs well. And housing providers suffer when that’s the case – because their units sit empty or the money they were supposed to get didn’t get paid out.

So, the crux of this issue for me boils down to the vulnerability that housing providers will face in the instances in which they are required to participate in the Section 8 process. And make no mistake, under this ordinance, there are instances in which that would be REQUIRED. 

And in those instances, housing providers will be at the mercy of the Housing Authority to coordinate and complete the process in a timely manner. And that is a scary proposition, because there is no doubt that that process does not get completed in a timely manner on many occasions. And that’s at a time when the program operators have every incentive to make the program attractive to and convenient for housing providers.


So, what would help. A guarantee. A guarantee that units are not going to sit empty when another applicant is ready, willing, and able to sign a lease and begin paying. A guarantee that housing providers can walk away from the program if they’re faced with losing money. 

There are a couple of ways this could go. It could be a provision in the ordinance that allows housing providers to move on to a non-voucher holder who qualifies and is willing and able to sign a lease before the Section 8 process is completed. “Completed” would mean that the lease is signed and there’s a firm date for payment to begin.

Another option is a provision that allows a housing provider to move on from the voucher holder if a lease cannot be by the voucher holder signed within a certain number of days. Either would give housing providers some assurance. 

So, there are ways to alleviate these concerns, and I hope the Committee is willing to consider them. Because if the Section 8 process is as smooth and expedited as it is being characterized as being, these deadlines should rarely come into play.  


The final thing I want to comment on is the portion of the proposed ordinance that would require housing providers to accept income from “other individuals”. That gets problematic for housing providers when the other individual providing the income is from outside the state. 

If they’re from Kentucky, it’s not a major deal. You sign them to the lease or a guaranty agreement, and it holds them responsible legally just like the tenant. But, if they’re from another state, housing providers are going to have a very difficult time collecting from them. Any judgment received in Kentucky would then have to be domesticated in the state where the person lives, meaning that an attorney would have to be hired in that state.

So, it seems that a provision should be added there that exempts housing providers from being required to accept income from individuals or entities outside of Kentucky.

So, there are things the Committee and/or the Council could do to ease the concerns and vulnerabilities of housing providers. I sincerely hope those concerns will be considered and addressed.

That’s my story. I hope you’ll show up this evening at 6:00 at 200 East Main Street and tell yours.

That’s it for today. If you need me, I’m at I hope you have a great week.

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