Lexington’s Housing Stabilization Program to offer new services

Lexington’s Housing Stabilization Program will offer additional housing stability services as the pandemic and emergency federal funding for housing end.
Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 3:22 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Lexington’s Housing Stabilization Program will offer additional housing stability services as the pandemic and emergency federal funding for housing end.

The city says new services will include legal counsel for tenants, application fee assistance and intensive case management for families experiencing continued financial difficulty.

Beginning Monday, January 30, new rental assistance applications will be initiated automatically for tenants with an active eviction case in Fayette District Court or by referral from a partner agency serving vulnerable populations, such as domestic violence victims.

The program will no longer provide emergency utility assistance, and will begin referring residents in need of utility assistance to other programs, such as the federally funded Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program currently operating at Community Action Council.

The city says, in the next few days, they will issue a Request for Proposals for Housing Stability services to include new and expanded activities that increase access to legal counsel for tenants, provide housing navigation and/or intensive case management, mediation services in eviction court, and more.

At the height of the pandemic, many families in Lexington were just trying to make it day to day, hoping they were able to maintain bills and rent.

“We were really working with a lot of folk who had never previously asked for assistance before,” said Commissioner for Housing Advocacy & Community Development Charlie Lanter.

Thanks to federal funding, Charlie Lanter says Lexington’s Housing Stabilization Program prevented thousands of evictions and helped with utilities and other bills paying out over $40 million in aid over the last two years to 6,000 households.

“If you actually run the data, one in every 12 renters in Fayette County has received assistance from this program over the past two years,” said Lanter.

However, the program is running out of aid from the federal government. Forcing the city to pivot as they continue to help families facing eviction.

“When we don’t have millions of dollars of rental assistance available, it’s going to be that much more important that we have things like mediation and access to counsel in court for those tenants as an additional protection for them,” said Lanter.

The aid for legal counsel is something the activist group Kentucky Tenants has been rallying for with what they call the ‘Tenants’ Bill of Rights.’

“We’re really happy that city government is working with tenants and hearing voices who are saying exactly what we need,” said Beau Revlett of Kentucky Tenants.

The group has rallied and marched for the ‘Bill of Rights’ for months now. They say seeing the legal aid coming is great momentum for their cause.

“We’re hoping that some of the things that are in the ‘Tenant’s Bill of Rights’ will be coming up on the committee agenda this month or next month,” said Revlett. “As those things are happening, we’ll continue to turn out people to city council meetings and continue to have rallies.”

The changes will not apply to applications submitted before January 30. Any tenant with a pending application for assistance before this change will have their application processed under the previous program guidelines.