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Kentucky leaders look for ways to curb housing crisis

Associated Press

The first meeting of the Kentucky Housing Task Force was held on Monday and lawmakers are looking for ways to address affordable housing needs across the state.

Members from the House and Senate who are on the task force spent much of the nearly two-hour meeting hearing data compiled by the Kentucky Housing Corporation.
Wendy Smith, Deputy Director of Housing Programs, said their most recent report, which was released last month, shows a significant increase in the number of Kentuckians experiencing first-time homelessness. She calls it a market problem.

“The market has gotten so expensive, more people are experiencing homelessness for the first time versus some folks are in and out of homelessness, pretty recurringly and their needs are pretty unique, and it can be really hard to get them the kind of services and shelter that they need.” Smith said, “first time homelessness is worrisome but we're also seeing an increase in people who are employed and homeless. These are indicators of a market that is just getting so expensive or there's just a scarcity of units.”

Smith explained that the May study shows the state lacks more than 200,000 housing units, both rentals and properties for sale. She told lawmakers to equate homelessness, housing instability and affordability to a game of musical chairs.

“Imagine you have 10 people playing musical chairs. One person is on crutches. 10 people. You have nine chairs. When the music stops, the person who will not find a chair is the person on crutches, right? They're going to be slower. It's harder for them to move around. Is it because of the crutches or is it because there weren't enough chairs?” Smith encouraged lawmakers to “think about this as a supply issue unless a crutches issue.”

The task force will meet monthly through the end of the year.

Karyn Czar joined the WUKY News team July 1, 2013, but she's no stranger to radio.