A diverse group of government, business, and social representatives are developing more structure for the affordable housing cause in Lexington. The panel met for the first time Wednesday.
Lexington's city council has decided to spend three million dollars for affordable housing over the next year, and a stakeholders group will work in the coming weeks to decide how to spend the money. A yet-to-be named board would make the final allocations.
The Homebuilders Association of Lexington is represented by Todd Johnson. He admits rent runs relatively high in the bluegrass community. "Right now in our community, here in Lexington, for example, we have a very high occupancy rate in rental properties, which drives rent up. So, rent probably is at the top right now," said Johnson.
Johnson says the availability and cost of land also make it difficult for residential builders to construct new affordable housing units.
Planning Commissioner Derik Paulsen says one of the main sticking points at city hall has been determining a long-term financing of affordable housing. "It will be some sort of funding source. I don't know how it will end up in terms of being new revenue or if it was taken from existing, but we will come forward with at least two options for council to look at and roll around. And that doesn't mean those will be the only ones that they may even consider," said Paulsen.
An East End Lexington community activist hopes city leaders do all they can to consider vacant properties in the effort to establish more affordable housing. Billie Mallory of the Williams Wells Brown Neighborhood Association attended the meeting. She says vacant properties are being identified in her neighborhood. "It needs to be used. You know, as long as all of that sits empty, then it becomes a prime target for criminal activity, for drugs, prostitution, anything else," said Mallory.
The affordable housing stakeholders group is scheduled to meet every other week and issue a report in July.