LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Bob Brown House is expanding the mission of its founder with the grand opening of a new affordable living facility in Lexington.
Independence Homes opened officially in August but celebrated its arrival with local officials in a ribbon-cutting on Thursday.
CEO and Director Amy Brown is the daughter of Founder Bob Brown. Like her father, she wants to provide affordable housing for those with special needs. She says she's been working to build upon her father's work for a long time.
"This place is obviously the culmination of five years of work and perseverance of making this dream of mine a reality," said Brown. "But more than that, this day celebrates a lot of heroes in my life. I love Maya Angelou. She said, 'A hero is any person intent on making this a better place for all people.' Now I know she didn't know my dad, but that was my dad to a tee."
The facility hopes to give adults with special needs the ability to live independently and affordably.
A qualifying resident's income must be at or below 50% of the area median income for Fayette County. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is used to determine rent.
There are 24 units for residents, and 15 are already occupied. Brown says right now there is no waitlist.
Affordable housing has been a long-standing issue in Lexington, and although the space adds 24 units to the table, the city will need a lot more. There are tons of people on waitlists across the city.
"There are a lot of statistics that indicate that we are in short supply of affordable housing across the country," said Jeremy Ratliff with the Kentucky Housing Corp. "There just aren't enough resources to provide enough affordable housing for people. The cost of housing is increasing. It has increased in the last few years. The pandemic has had an effect on that. The cost of housing, the cost of construction has increased."
City leaders like Mayor Linda Gorton are aware of that issue.
"We know there's still a huge need. That's why I have proposed to the council dedicating $10 million from our federal American Rescue Plan funding to affordable housing," said Gorton.
In November, the construction of 600 additional affordable housing units will begin. Another Bob Brown House project is also underway on Cleveland Road.
"We're probably never going to be finished, right, but we are certainly setting ourselves a high goal to continue this important work," said Gorton.
Since 2014, the Affordable Housing Fund has allocated $18.6 million and leveraged over $284 million, along with other public and private funds, to construct or preserve 2,390 affordable housing units in Fayette County.