Stretching Tax Dollars to Help Section 8 Housing

Reported by: Melanie Kendall
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Updated: 7/04 9:33 am
In Lexington there is an estimated 5,000 people living in some type of government assisted housing and more than half of them use Section 8 vouchers to help pay the rent according to the Central Kentucky Housing and Homeless Initiative.
 
All-across the country Thursday people rallied to bring attention to the housing crisis but in Lexington they took it one step further.
 
Leaders of homeless organizations met with Congressman Andy Barr asking for his help.
 
As part of the Sequester, nationwide-cuts were made across the board by five percent including the housing assistance budget.
 
Locally since the cuts, instead of kicking people out of the program, funding has been stretched.
 
To make up some of the difference, rent went up by $100 a month for those living in Section 8 housing.
 
Congressman Barr said he’s been working to bring more money into the program and has voted against increased cuts.
 
The National Coalition of the Homeless said more needs to be done.
 
After Thursday’s meeting, Congressman Barr and those advocating for the homeless said they plan to work together to find creative solutions to spread tax dollars further and keep people from living on the streets.
 
“he folks at the bottom have far less choices,” said David Christiansen, executive director for the Central Kentucky Housing and Homeless Initiative.  “They're already stretched so far that a rent increase or a loss of a job, all these things, these crisis can lead to homelessness.”
 
One idea to stretch funding that was talked about in the meeting is to start a trial program to have roommates in Section 8 housing.
 
The program would allow two people to live in a two-bedroom apartment.  Each person would get half a Section 8 voucher, each half making up a full voucher for the apartment.
 
The pilot program is still in the early stages but meetings have already been scheduled with other city leaders.

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