By Adrienne Bush
All children, regardless of circumstance, deserve a safe place to live.
My organization, Community Ministries, rents apartments to families with children who are experiencing homelessness. In addition, we work as a liaison with other private landlords to provide upfront move-in costs in order to move more families from homelessness to stable housing. Because we use federal housing dollars, we are subject to a higher standard than most other housing providers in Kentucky, including the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) – and that’s a good thing. Families coming into our housing services know what they can expect from us. They know what their responsibilities and rights are, and they can expect to be treated fairly, as well as anyone else.
By virtue of fair and transparent treatment, families and children accessing housing through Community Ministries often have it better than many others in the Commonwealth. Only one-third of Kentucky renters are covered by the URLTA, as it is only the law in certain cities and municipalities. House Bill 380 seeks to address this gap in coverage by applying URLTA statewide. This bill calls upon communities, including both landlords and tenants, “to maintain and improve the quality of housing.”
Here in Hazard, we receive 5 phone calls a week on average from families who are being evicted and want to know if there is anything we can do to help. Too many times, they are subject to a lease with less than 30 days eviction notice required. Sometimes, families may have to leave the property within 7 days. By the time they call, they often have only a couple of days to pack their belongings and leave. In that circumstance, there is little we can do to prevent homelessness.
Enacting HB 380 would help change these circumstances. It would ensure a standard process for landlords to follow so that families can expect and enjoy fair and equal treatment under the law. URLTA also affords landlords protections to seek damages and non-payment. It could save time and money in the legal process by standardizing procedures.
While housing is something that many of us take for granted as something basic, children who have experienced housing instability do not. With the statewide adoption of URLTA, children all across the Commonwealth will have improved access to a safe place to call home. We all want our children and families to thrive in our communities. Fair and equal housing is a step in the right direction to make that happen.
Learn more about URLTA here.
Adrienne Bush is the executive director of Hazard Perry County Community Ministries.