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Lexington council members urged to prioritize homeless needs with ARPA funds

Stu Johnson

Lexington city council members are expected to make more preliminary decisions about American Rescue Plan Act funding Thursday. Council has been discussing for weeks a wide variety of ARPA projects. Many citizens Tuesday night urged city leaders to put the needs of the homeless high on the list. Rabbi David Wirtschafter recalled the Old Testament story of Joseph and his brothers.

“Because when Joseph stands before the Court of Pharaoh to interpret the leader’s dreams, it’s not only about managing the plenty in the robust first seven years, but managing the lack, the dirth, in the seven years of famine,” said Wirtschafter.

University of Kentucky Professor Daniela DiGiacomo said COVID has exacerbated inequalities and these dollars present an opportunity to better support the unhoused.

Paul Murphy, a small business owner downtown, said there are more new homeless in the pavilion area. “There’s needles found outside the door, and I’m speaking for all the businesses downtown, all the bars on the pavilion area specifically, and they’re all having problems with the homeless,” said Murphy.

Vice Mayor Steve Kay says Council will consider comments from residents as it makes more funding decisions.

Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.
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