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'It's the worst it's been in years:' The state of affordable housing in Kentucky

Workers need to make average of $20 an hour to afford 1-bedroom apartment, report says
Posted at 6:55 PM, Feb 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-02 19:22:05-05

After being forced to vacate their apartments Monday, a handful of tenants at a Jessamine County apartment complex said they didn't have other housing lined up. Some of the former tenants headed to hotels and others went to relatives' homes.

"We don't really have anywhere to go," said Kayce Burns, a former tenant. "They didn't give us enough time to figure that out."

According to the Nicholasville Housing Authority, there's high demand and a lack of inventory. There is a waitlist of up to one and a half years for a one-bedroom apartment in Jessamine County and up to 9 months for a two-bedroom.

Statewide, the same problem occurs.

"Kentucky substantially lacks affordable housing options for our working families," Tiffany Marthaler, the executive director with the Commonwealth Alliance for Housing Solutions, said.

She said Kentucky was 75,000 affordable housing units short before the pandemic, and that number has grown since.

"The economy needs to provide affordable and available housing options for their workforce, and if they don't do that those families are going to eventually move and leave, and that's really going to impact your economy," Marthaler said.

As a solution, her organization is backing a bill in the General Assembly called HB 86. It would provide tax credits to incentivize building affordable housing. Those developments would have to remain affordable for 30 years.

President and CEO of the non-profit, Housing Partnership Inc., Andrew Hawes, also said he is in favor of the bill.

"It is definitely needed," Hawes, said. "We are one of many states that are pursuing it."

He also said the Build Back Better bill at the federal level would help what he referred to as Kentucky's affordable housing crisis.

"The amount of resources that are available to create and sustain this type of housing has not grown at the same pace as the needs of the community," Hawes said.

He also said this problem is urgent. That's because there are many affordable housing developments that are almost 30 years old. After those 30 years are up, they are no longer required to be affordable.

"We're going to start going backward," Hawes said. "That's not what anybody wants to see. Everybody wants to maintain affordability. The community needs it. There are hard-working families that are paying way too much towards their basic housing needs."

"I think the affordable housing crisis right now is critical, and I think it's worsening, and I think it's the worst it's been in years," Marthaler said. "We have to get ahead of it. It's only going to continue to get worse if we don't."