Lexington expands tenant services, but infusion of federal housing dollars is set to run out
The funds behind it may be one-time federal dollars, but Lexington’s Housing Stabilization program is expanding services for tenants facing eviction to include mediation with landlords and access to legal counsel.
"We've built an infrastructure that is hopefully forever changed how our community in how we work with people who struggle to pay their rent," said Lexington’s commissioner for housing advocacy and community development Charlie Lanter, voicing a hope that’s shared by many in the renting community.
Pandemic aid allowed for the creation of wide-reaching programs to help keep people in their homes during the height of the health crisis, but now, with federal funds beginning to dry up, renters are pushing for a more permanent system to help those facing eviction.
Emma Anderson is with activist group Kentucky Tenants.
"This city has had a period of unprecedented housing spending and there's been so many people involved in making that work and people are thinking about it more than they ever have," Anderson said. "Making sure that we don't let that infrastructure go and we make sure that we're building on it and keeping involved is really important."
So far the city’s housing stabilization fund has provided more than $46 million in assistance to over 6,300 Lexington households and 1,100 landlords. But while there’s no doubt the program is winding down as the one-time monies are spent, several members of Lexington’s new Urban County Council have shown some interest in bolstering protections for renters.
While Mayor Linda Gorton has stopped short of endorsing a so-called “tenants' bill of rights,” she has said Lexington may be able to integrate some elements of those reforms.