Lexington city leaders are moving forward with a plan to help establish more affordable housing. The first units under a new program could be built next year.
Planning Commissioner Derek Paulsen brought an extensive report before council Tuesday. In it, he recommends spending two million dollars annually out of the city's housing fund for housing. Three million dollars is already set aside for housing.
Previous discussions focused on designating money from an insurance premium tax. Commissioner Paulsen says the funds to be set aside would go for construction financing. "We think we can build between 75 and possibly a little bit more, but again a lot of that is gonna be determined by the types of people that bring forward applications for financing," said Paulsen.
Paulsen says rent vouchers are not viable until a steady stream of funds are in place for several years. David Christiansen, Director of the Central Kentucky Housing and Homeless Initiative, worries not enough money will be targeted for lower rent housing. "You want to have a broadest array of folks that can benefit from it including even home ownership, but the majority of the money ought to be going where the greatest need is," said Christiansen.
Under the plan, rent for an efficiency apartment would be $469 a month up to about $1100 for a four-bedroom unit.
Members of the Lexington Landlord Association expressed concerns about the proposal. Ike Lawrence believes the strategy being considered could result in landlords going out of business and rental units in disrepair. "To us this is a big bureaucracy that's about to be created, duplicated, and we think that they should slow the process down and look at our alternative suggestions," said Lawrence.
Other ideas include starting a code enforcement sweep of all rental housing every five to ten years and initiating landlord and tenant licensing. Belinda Snead, with Building a United Interfaith Lexington Through Direct Action, or BUILD, says the citizens-based group is still seeking a long term designated funding source.