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Running out of options: Single mother looking for affordable housing in Lexington hits standstill

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Posted at 7:09 PM, Apr 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-07 11:04:55-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A Lexington woman is still looking for an affordable place to live after months of searching in the city.

Davita Gatewood got a notice to vacate her rented home in January. But says she started looking way before then. It's now been months and she is still looking for a home for her and her kids.

"I have been pounding the pavement, going through private landlords, going through even looking into homeownership, and I haven't had any luck. The biggest problem is so many landlords will not take section 8," said Gatewood.

While her apartment has given her an extension to finalize her move, every day that passes she knows she's inching toward eviction court.

"I'm trying to be optimistic for myself and my children and resourceful as possible," said Gatewood. "But honestly, yes, mostly because I can't find anything. And that's not because we're not looking. It is extremely expensive."

District 2 Councilmember Josh McCurn says housing units are limited and rent prices continue to climb.

"170 homes in Lexington, it is a very scarce number and it's dwindling down further and further. I'm hoping that there's going to be a hotter market in the real estate world coming here in the near summer or late spring. But everyone's fighting over those homes right now," said McCurn.

Gatewood is one of many facing uncertain eviction rights according to Fayette Court data.

There were 486 forcible detainer cases filed this March. That's more than there've been since February 2019- A date that's more than a year before the pandemic hit.

"Those numbers are going to start going higher and higher and higher and that's my worst fear," said Councilmember at large Richard Maloney.

Urban County Government council members Malone and McCurn have been listening to constituents and brainstorming solutions.

The idea Maloney is trying to push is expanding the urban services boundary (USB) to allow for people to build homes near the interstate. It separates rural land from urban development.”

More information on USB can be found here.

"This is a golden opportunity that we start building out on the interstate out to Eastern Kentucky and build homes and jobs and opportunity," said Maloney. "I'm looking at the next 20-30 years because we keep going this way, We are not going to have a generation."

For Fayette Alliance, attractive solutions would utilize land already zoned for housing and sustainable utilizing more space.

"A huge part of our community's growth is making sure that our community members can afford to live in Lexington, Fayette County. And so, the way that we approach the issue about affordable housing is from a policy perspective. How can we impact and make local change here with our policies? How can we make affordable housing easier to develop? Easier to construct? How can we reduce barriers to developing affordable housing and all of that from a policy perspective?," said Executive Director Brittany Roethemeier.

For people struggling now, the city's new Office of Housing Advocacy and Community Development is still working on tools to help residents struggling now, who cannot afford to wait.

In February, the city's commissioner for housing advocacy and community development told us they were working on a list of affordable housing in the city and hiring a housing advocate.

When we reached out on Wednesday for an update on how close they are to being able to help, we did not receive a response before this story was published.

Meanwhile, Gatewood has two months to find a solution.