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Lexington Housing Authority debuts five new affordable townhomes in the East End.

Each of the townhomes at the corner of East Sixth Street and Pemberton boasts two bedrooms and one-and-a-half bathrooms. They're designed for families who have been homeless or are at risk of homelessness.

Austin Simms, Executive Director of the Housing Authority, said the new units - sporting blue, yellow, and pink paint - are indistinguishable from housing available in the private market.

"These vibrant colors are a stark difference from the red brick row housing we have become accustomed to," said Simms.

The townhomes are in Lexington's East End, part of Council District 1, which is served by Councilwoman Tayna Fogle.

"When you look at this, it doesn't look like the East End projects," said Fogle. "It doesn't look like really low-income housing that no one wants to live in. It's not built shabby; it's sturdy."

Fogle hopes developments like this one will dispel fears of affordable housing being undesirable and encourage more communities to incorporate housing options for people of varying income levels. She says access to stable housing helps families feel invested in their communities, and is part of the solution to crime and gun violence.

"When your motivation goes up and you live better, you do better," said Fogle. "And you protect where you live."

Sierra Johnson is a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Specialist with the Housing Authority; it's her job to screen referrals for eligibility in supportive housing programs.

"Our referrals come from the Office of Homelessness Prevention and Intervention," said Johnson. "They get them off the coordinated entry list."

Two families have already been approved to move into the new townhomes. Johnson says the Housing Authority provides them with case management, pays utility services, and connects them with other essential wrap-around services.

“That can look like providing them with resources to the food bank, clothing, Goodwill, Salvation Army, or getting them back into school, if that’s something they want to do,” said Johnson. “Community resources can help them along their journey to get back into living a regular life.

Over the past decade, the city’s Affordable Housing Fund has invested $47 million in the construction and preservation of nearly 3500 housing units with more on the way; the city’s 2024 budget allocates 1% of the past year’s revenue toward affordable housing – over $4.5 million.