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Lexington City Council considering a move to double affordable housing funding

Council Chamber Featured Many Members of B.U.I.L.D. Group 03-21-23
Stu Johnson
Council Chamber Featured Many Members of B.U.I.L.D. Group 03-21-23

Lexington city leaders are moving toward a new funding program to significantly boost affordable housing support. Members of the City Council’s Budget Committee backed a plan to rescind the current set amount of funding. New support, starting in 2025, would be based on 1% of the previous year’s city revenue amount. "Building a United Interfaith Lexington through Direct-Action" has lobbied for more affordable housing money. Mary Miller has been a part of B.U.I.L.D. for about two years.

“People can’t afford to buy housing, can’t afford to rent housing. That affects or labor market. We’ve seen high demand for jobs and people can’t afford to move to Lexington to get those jobs because we don’t have housing for them to live in,” said Miller.

Charlie Lanter is the commissioner of Housing Advocacy and Community Development. Lanter said there’s a limit to how much local money should go for housing when taking into account leveraging other sources of funding.

“You get to a point over maybe five million a year, somewhere in that range, you lose that leverage and LFUCG starts paying 100% of the cost for the development. So, you’re doing a lot less with the money you have,” said Lanter.

In addition to money to build new housing units, Council Member Liz Sheehan said it’s important to set aside money for mental health and recovery support to help assure residents can remain housed. Council Member Fred Brown cast a "no" vote. He said he’s not opposed to affordable housing but said an ordinance that’s tied to a percentage of overall revenue is not good government.

With a percentage approach to funding, the annual affordable housing support would roughly double to $4.5 million. Separately, city council members may still make an adjustment in $750,000 to focus on homeless services. A full Council vote is scheduled in June.

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