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Community organizations team up to address affordable housing issues in Lexington

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Posted at 6:42 PM, Sep 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-29 21:24:14-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Community organization LPD Accountability is hosting a series of discussions to address areas of harm across Lexington.

LPD Accountability ultimately wants to see a harm-free community and they say one of the biggest harms right now in Lexington is a lack of affordable housing.

Organizer Emma Anderson says they've had their ears open and are hearing a lot of concern about affordable housing.

"We've participated in many of the ARPA funding conversations at the city level and overwhelmingly people bring up affordable housing. Organizationally, we also have deep connections to organizations trying to help prevent evictions and watched people in our own group struggle with housing insecurity and stress during the last couple of years. We see the direction that Lexington is headed: more gentrification, population growth, and we know our people need better options," said Anderson.

They held their first meeting at the Recovery Cafe on Wednesday and focused on affordable housing solutions.

Affordable Housing is defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as when a household pays no more than 30% of their gross income for housing costs (rent, utilities, mortgage).

The city of Lexington doesn't have a current hard number on how many affordable housing units are in the city. That number is nuanced and constantly changing.

City officials say there are waitlists because properties are leasing quickly.

Larry Fieger, lead coach for the Recovery Cafe, deals firsthand with connecting people to affordable housing, and he says it's been increasingly difficult to come by.

"Even if an individual has the funds to obtain a place, the list to get into somewhere can be so long that they run out of money, staying in hotels or, you know paying rent at a friend's house," said Fieger.

On top of the waitlists, Fieger says some landlords are pickier about tenants.

"I've met with multiple landlords who haven't been so willing to address re-entry and there's still a lot a judgement with individuals who have experienced incarceration at any time in their past as well as mental illness or disabilities," said Fieger.

It's a large issue that's been attacked on multiple levels.

Lexington's Affordable Housing Fund was created in 2014 and since then $18.6 million has been allocated for the preservation and new construction of 2,390 units. In funding these developments, the Affordable Housing Fund has been able to leverage another $284 million from public and private resources. Most of the funding has been allocated to developments serving households at or below 60% of area median income.

Households they serve must have incomes that are at or below 80% of area median income.

To put it into perspective, 60% of area median income in Fayette County is $31,740 for a 1-person household; $36,240 for a 2-person household; $40,800 for a 3-person household, and $45,300 for a 4-person household.

"Lexington's Affordable Housing Fund has and continues to make a difference by funding quality housing developments for lower-income households. In the next two or three months, over 600 units will be under construction, all targeted to serve households whose incomes are at or below 60% of area median income," said Rick McQuady, Director of Lexington's Office of Affordable Housing.

LPD Accountability has a $5,000 grant to start and is hoping the conversations can help lead to more funding solutions.

Resources for those in need: How do I get help? | City of Lexington (lexingtonky.gov)