Citizens take eviction concerns to Lexington mayor’s home

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Wednesday evening, a caravan of cars protested outside Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton’s home demanding she impose a comprehensive automatic eviction moratorium.

It’s something she can’t do.

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But organizers say they want to do everything they can to help people stay in their homes. 

Since August, more than 1,400 evictions have been filed in Fayette County courts.  Fueled by those notices and what may lie ahead, a coalition of 30 community organizations took their concerns to Gorton’s neighborhood.

They want a city-directed eviction moratorium. 

Here’s the problem, the city has concluded the mayor and Urban Council do not have the legal authority to issue a moratorium on evictions. 

Gorton also says she’s taking many steps to keep citizens in their homes, including providing additional funding, if needed. In fact, millions have been spent or is available locally ad statewide to help.

Still protesters say time is not on their side and they want their voices heard.

“It’s very scary and there are people out there who have health issues. I have health issues as well and you know, like so many other thousands of people do, on top of that with what’s going on it’s, caused massive amounts of anxiety and stress,” said Shaye Awwad, who was among those taking part in Wednesday night’s caravan.

Gorton says she is meeting with members of the Lexington Housing Justice Collective on January 21.

A statewide ban, which mirrors federal provisions, is in place until Jan. 31 and could be extended. The ban mostly applies t evictions for non-payment of rent and both tenants and landlords have to meet certain guidelines.

Millions of dollars is available in the state for assistance.

For the time being, Gorton says she’s streamlined the process people use to apply for assistance.

In addition, the city is in contact with Fayette County judges as well as social service providers to get people assistance.

Across both state and local programs, $3,576,231 has been spent to help 1,214 households in Fayette County since March.

“Based on considerable research, the City has concluded that the Mayor and the Council do not have the legal authority to issue a moratorium on evictions. The Mayor has directed city staff to take all other steps necessary to keep citizens in their homes, including providing additional funding, if needed,” Gorton’s office said.

For those who need help, the best way to contact the City is on-line or through email at housingstabalization@lexingtonky.gov .