LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) – KY Tenants held a town hall meeting Friday at the Lyric Theater to address the issue of affordable housing in Lexington.
Lexington wife Davita Gatewood’s fight to secure a home for her and her six children began months ago.
Gatewood received notice to vacate his rented home in January. She fought successfully to get extension after extension of her lease from her landlord.
“It’s like every day looking diligently for safe and affordable housing, and I emphasize safety, because often when you’re in that situation people think you should just take anything” , Gatewood said.
However, in September, his family will have to leave their rented accommodation permanently. With the state of affordable housing in the city, Gatewood says it’s an uphill battle.
She relies on the Section 8 Housing Voucher. Without it, she cannot afford housing.
“Just because you have a housing voucher doesn’t mean you’re going to get housing, and a lot of landlords aren’t taking housing vouchers right now,” Gatewood said.
It’s a fight she’s vowed not to give up, taking the issue to the Biden administration in Washington DC
She traveled with KY Tenants and Homes Guarantee, a project created by a national grassroots network to demand federal protections for tenants like her.
Several people have told LEX 18 that they are now homeless or on the verge of homelessness after not being able to use their voucher before it expired or the end of their lease.
Gatewood says their call to the White House was for them to help change that. Their demand included: a tenant rights task force, a federal tenant protection office, rent control for properties receiving federal subsidies, a nationwide right to renew leases, and the ability for tenants to buy rented accommodation coming onto the public market.
Currently, 30-40 million people are currently at risk of eviction due to the COVID-19 housing crisis, according to the Aspen Institute.
The exact number in Lexington changes daily. The demand for affordable housing is high throughout Kentucky, but the supply of available housing is desperately low.
Affordable Housing Director Rick McQuady said the city is working to use the $12 million it has to try to house more people.
“There’s a lot of new construction going on, and we’re trying to make sure there’s even more opportunity for low-income households to find quality, affordable housing in Lexington,” McQuady said.
He added that 146 affordable housing units are under construction, while 155 are being rehabilitated.
According to city data, Lexington loses about 400 affordable homes each year. The city has built nearly 3,000 homes since the Affordable Housing Authority was established in 2014 and is in the process of building 1,000 more for the future.
McQuady says he believes the city is doing all it can.
“It’s very complex, there’s no doubt about it. There are a lot of issues that come into play and we’re just doing the best we can with the resources we have to serve as many households as possible,” he said. declared.
Yet residents looking for affordable housing now say there are few options and little help. That’s why KY Tenants held a Town Hall to give tenants a platform to discuss and brainstorm solutions.
“In Lexington, we don’t have enough tenant rights, and we don’t have enough affordable housing. And it’s both. We can get out of the housing crisis, and the less we let’s get more tenant rights,” said organizer Beau Revlett.
Revlett thinks the city can do more and plans to present policy ideas at city hall.
“Local government has the power to spend more money on affordable housing, it has more power to put in place more protections for tenants, and that means it has accountability,” Revlett said.