Lexington city leaders announce new services to help people facing eviction

A Lexington housing advocate says 25 people would face a Fayette County judge regarding their eviction status.
Published: May. 2, 2023 at 5:37 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A Lexington housing advocate told WKYT that 25 people would face a Fayette County judge regarding their eviction status, with some of those people not having money for an attorney.

However, the city says help is on the way. Tuesday afternoon, Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton announced that the city is giving $1.9 million from federal funds to assist tenants facing eviction with access to legal counsel.

Legal Aid of the Bluegrass and Kentucky Equal Justice Center will assist where needed; this includes mediation with landlords.

“When you’ve got a situation where 99% of the landlords have an attorney, and 99% of the attorneys do not, then there’s a huge power imbalance, and so the first thing you do is you even the playing field by having the legal representation for the tenant,” said Housing Advocacy and Community Development Commissioner Charlie Lanter.

Andrea Zang is with Kentucky Tenants, a local tenant-led organization fighting for affordable housing says she likes the program because it may keep eviction off a person’s record.

“Most landlords will not take your rental application if you’ve been evicted. It’s a huge barrier because people are homeless because they were evicted in the past,” said Zang.

Sixth district Councilmember Denise Gray has attended eviction court to see what it’s like because some of her constituents were in a financial bind with the rent.

“Well, my constituents are saying they want housing that is affordable and that is safe,” said Councilmember Gray.

Ginny Ramsey with the Catholic Action Center says the new funds should go further.

“That some of it should go to retain people’s homes and to supply them with interim housing,” said Ramsey.

Zang says each month, about 400 people are evicted.

City officials tell us about 4,000 residents will be helped with these additional services.

Councilmember Gray says there’s discussion in council chambers to take 1% from the general fund to place toward affordable housing.