LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — It's no secret that the pandemic has caused a housing problem in Kentucky.
State lawmakers heard from groups representing tenants and landlords at Thursday's Interim Judiciary Committee hearing. Both sides testified about the struggles everyone is facing.
"It's likely that 149,000 Kentucky households will have an eviction filed against them in the next few months," said Josh Crabtree, the executive director of Legal Aid of the Bluegrass.
Crabtree told lawmakers that data from The Eviction Lab shows 221,000 Kentucky households are currently unable to pay rent or are at risk of eviction. He said that's 44% of all households that rent their homes.
Advocates for tenants said that some people are being evicted even though they're still waiting for the state to approve and process their unemployment claims.
"It is so offensive to me that we are allowing evictions to proceed when Kentuckians are doing their best to get the money that they deserve to pay rent right now. And we're allowing those people to face eviction proceedings," said Ben Carter with the Kentucky Equal Justice Center.
However, it's not just tenants who are hurting. Advocates for landlords said homeowners hadn't gotten any relief when it comes to mortgages. That means landlords are still expected to pay them despite not having rent coming in.
"The multi-family apartment industry is the only sector of our economy being asked to give away their product for free while still having to meet their own financial obligations," JD Carney, executive director of the Apartment Association of Kentucky.
On top of mortgages, landlords still face other expenses as well.
"Roughly 91% of every dollar collected in rent goes towards expenses, and these expenses have not stopped at all for the landlords during this pandemic," said Jesse Brewer with the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Apartment Association.
Lawmakers agreed that the situation is terrible for everyone involved. Rep. Nima Kulkarni told her fellow lawmakers that the must-do right by both sides.
"The solutions that we need to focus on in the upcoming session have got to come from the point of view that landlords and tenants are both Kentuckians, our constituents," said Kulkarni. "We need to resolve these issues in light of fairness to both parties. There's no scenario where we can pit one against the other and come out of this in any kind of a good way."