Kentucky kids and families need a safe, stable home in order to thrive. However, the rising cost and declining supply of housing has made it difficult for 43% of Kentucky renters to find safe, stable housing. For many of these families, a job loss or medical emergency could put them at risk for eviction or homelessness, seriously impacting their long term economic, food, and housing security.

This is especially true for families of color, who face a number of historical and structural barriers to housing. Black, women-led households are evicted at the highest rate, and Black youth are 83% more likely to experience homelessness than any other race. 

Evictions are both common and devastating for families. While Kentucky has a comparatively low eviction filing rate, Louisville and Lexington both file evictions at a rate much higher than the national average, with Louisville filing evictions at over double the national rate.

Evictions can and have been filed over as little as $70 or a tenant allowing a family member to move in. These are not a temporary setback, but instead evictions stay on a person’s record forever and make it extremely difficult for them to find housing in the future, even in cases where the judge sides with the tenant and no eviction occurs. Every rental that someone applies for will be able to see their eviction history, making landlords hesitant to rent to them and punishing individuals for years-old mistakes.

One remedy to minimize the impact evictions have on a family’s ability to find safe, stable housing is eviction expungement. Similar to the expungement process in criminal law, eviction expungement would automatically remove an eviction from someone’s record after a certain number of years being eviction free and seal eviction filings that do not result in an eviction. This process would ensure that a years-old eviction doesn’t prevent someone from finding safe housing, while also ensuring landlord’s can access the information needed to assess a prospective tenant’s current situation. 

Beyond evictions, Kentucky lawmakers can support the housing security of Kentuckians who are homeless by passing House Bill 21, sponsored by Representative Randy Bridges. HB 21 would make it easier for homeless Kentuckians to access a state ID, especially homeless youth who are unaccompanied by an adult. 

An ID is required to apply for housing, find a job, get a loan, or receive public benefits, yet many homeless Kentuckians do not have this essential documents due to barriers like cost and paperwork requirements. Without this essential document, it is virtually impossible for families to achieve economic security or build a life for themselves. 

One in thirty youth aged 13-17 experience some type of homelessness unaccompanied by an adult, and requirements around parental permission make it even more difficult for these youth to access an ID. Many of these youth have been involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems and were either kicked out by their parents or are fleeing abuse, meaning they have virtually no relationship with their parents. Without this relationship, these youth are stuck waiting until their eighteenth birthday to get an ID and establish a life for themselves independently of their parents. HB 21 would address these challenges by allowing unaccompanied youth facing homelessness to access an ID without parental permission.

Without safe, stable housing, it is incredibly difficult for Kentucky families and youth to thrive at home, in school, or in the workforce. By expunging evictions and increasing access to IDs, Kentucky lawmakers can give Kentuckians a second chance at housing stability.