Lexington voters weigh in on affordable housing issues at mayor’s budget proposal meeting

There was heated public comment Thursday night as voters weighed in on Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton’s budget proposal—particularly affordable housing.
Published: May. 5, 2022 at 10:00 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - There was heated public comment Thursday night as voters weighed in on Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton’s budget proposal—particularly affordable housing.

Council has agreed to set aside $10 million in American Rescue Plan Money, and the budget directs an additional $2 million to the issue. Some people say that’s not enough money to address shortcomings.

Three people spoke out about affordable housing, saying the mayor’s budget is not enough. One person was critical of funding to new police cruisers and for Flock cameras. Another said the city drug their feet on using ARPA money for rental assistance, which they said could have prevented Monday’s tragedy on Rogers Road.

As Lexington city officials prepare to iron out Mayor Gorton’s budget, there are citizens who say it misses the mark on affordable housing, which is shaping up to be a key issue in the mayoral race.

“The mayor said her budget prioritizes investments in public safety. Apparently this means a budget that allocates two and a half times more money for replacing than funding affordable housing,” neighbor James Woodhead said.

Last year, the city was given $120 million in American Rescue Plan money. Ten million went to affordable housing. The budget adds $2 million to that, and another million dollars to the neighborhood investment fund.

“The efforts that you all are putting forth are not enough,” neighbor April Taylor said.

Neighbors voiced their concerns of where the budget comes up short for housing, one saying there are people falling through the cracks.

“Housing is a basic need, a basic human right. Not something that should be hoarded as a commodity,” Taylor said.

One speaker told council the issue is a “right now” problem and criticizes them for taking too long to fund programs that help families with rent. Even going as far as to say housing and eviction concerns could have been the trigger in Monday’s deadly stabbing at an apartment on Rogers Road.

“You all sat around on for seven months and did not dispense any of these monies for seven months. This mother and so many other persons in this community needed assistance, rental assistance,” said Michael Wilson with the Central Kentucky Homelessness and Housing Initiative.

Assistance that supporters say can keep families in their home.

“What is really something that we need to consider, is the things that we can do to prevent things like this from happening,” Wilson said.

Just two days ago at BUILD Lexington’s Nehemiah Action Assembly, affordable housing was addressed. Councilmembers who were there asked if they would bring a proposal to council to dedicate $10 million in funding to affordable housing by October 1.

The three who were asked this all said yes. During Thursday’s public hearing on the mayor’s budget, Mayor Gorton was not there. A city spokesperson said Gorton had a conflict of an Army ROTC commissioning she felt was important, and added she rarely misses council meetings.

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