A voluntary program that would provide financial incentives to property owners who rent to university students was presented to the Planning Committee of Urban County Council on Tuesday.
The properties would be listed on a Web site for off-campus housing that would be a resource for house-hunting students and their parents. It would list rental properties that meet and exceed basic housing codes.
It would be "like a seal of approval," said Officer Keith Gaines, the University of Kentucky neighborhood coordinator for the Lexington police department, who proposed the plan.
Gaines serves on the Town and Gown Commission. His student housing plan was included as an appendix with the recent Student Housing Take Force report.
The Planning Committee discussed Gaines' idea but did not take action.
The economic incentive for landlords, Gaines said, would be that properties on the Web site would rent first. "Those not part of the program would see other properties being rented and want to join the program," Gaines predicted.
City code endorsement director David Jarvis supported Gaines' plan.
"When you have massive amounts of properties in one area like around UK, that is where this program would work," Jarvis said.
Gaines has lined up 25 property owners who would be willing to take part in a pilot project, and he said he could get 30 more without much effort.
A key to success would be UK's listing the properties on a school-sponsored Web site — something Tom Harris, representing UK, stopped short of saying the university would do. Harris did say he thought a certified list would be a good idea.
Several council people were critical that Harris had no concrete ideas to present.
Vice Mayor Jim Gray said safe, decent student housing has not been a priority with UK, yet "the university is much of the root cause of these problems."
The planning committee plans further discussion on Gaines' proposal. Its next regularly scheduled meeting is 1 p.m. Nov. 24.