Lexington closer to $1.9 million rental assistance program

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – While the state is finalizing details of its rental assistance program, Lexington is close to its own $1.9 million program.

The Urban Council’s budget committee approved the program Tuesday afternoon.

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The plan calls for the city to partner with eight non-profits on managing applications for up to $4,000 in rent or moving help per family (see some details rent plan )

That comes on top of a separate program — RISE — started last week of up to $2,000 for families in the service industry impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.That program has $500,000 available to help 250 families.

The system is designed to prevent people from double-dipping with local programs or the state program.

It also involves landlords directly.

The city already has more than 2,000 names on a list from sign ups that begin on a rental assistance web site in June. The average need among those families is about $2,500, said city Social Service Commissioner Chris Ford.

“We can’t help every eviction, but we’re trying to minimize the number and the displacement,” Ford said.

The full council is expected to act Thursday.

For information on the program, go to: https://covid19renterhelp.org
or call the Community Action Council or one of the eight agencies:
Urban League
Step by Step Single Mothers
Catholic Charities
AVOL Medically Vulnerable
GreenHouse17 DV Victims
The Nest Families
New Life Day Center
Community Action Council

People who are evicted for reasons other than not paying rent aren’t eligible.

“We can’t wait …there is so much need out there. People are in jeopardy of losing their homes…people are in crises…we need to do all we can,” Vice Mayor Steve Kay said.

“We hope we can keep families in their homes through the winter,” city staff said, noting the program includes some language encouraging landlords to provide 90 day cushions.

“We are going to run through that money pretty quickly,” Urban Council member James Brown stated. “We should remember we are injecting money back into the economy to landlords ad we are helping folks who need help.”

The program calls for about $980,000 initially in rent assistance and moving help and some smaller programs. Once the agencies get through that first phase, the rest of the money will be drawn down.

The finding comes from the city’s coronavirus expense reimbursement.

Mayor Linda Gorton has recommended spending as much as $3 million in the effort. That, along with some other proposals, will be discussed next month.

The state announced a $15 million assistance pool ad other guidelines Monday. The web site to apply will ope Sept. 8. The city expects some of its program to dovetail into the state program.