Part of the $3.1 million the University of Kentucky paid the city of Lexington to buy the former senior center on Nicholasville Road will go to a cash-strapped homeless shelter and other programs that serve the poor.
The Hope Center, which provides emergency shelter, addiction and other services to the homeless, will receive $250,000 from the sale of the former senior center, which was closed after the opening of the new senior center in Idle Hour Park in September 2016.
The Hope Center has lost key funding sources for its emergency shelter for homeless men. The proposed $358 million city budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 has allocated $1.6 million to the center. The Lexington Urban County Council will take a final vote on that budget later this month.
“Our emergency shelter is currently under-funded by $1 million,” said Janice James, administrative deputy director for programming for the Hope Center. “We are grateful that they were able to fund $250,000 while we try to raise the rest of the $1 million needed to run the emergency shelter.”
The Hope Center is trying to raise the remaining more than $750,000, James said.
The city used $686,680 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds to pay for part of the construction of the former senior citizens center in 1983. UK paid a little more than $3.1 million for the property in March. Federal rules say approximately 69 percent or $2.1 million must be re-used on projects eligible for Community Development Block Grants. Those funds must be spent by May 2018, according to documents provided to the Urban County Council work session.
“This money has to follow regular CDBG rules,” said Sally Hamilton, chief administrative officer during a Tuesday council work session. Those rules say the projects must target 51 percent low and moderate income people or be located in low-and-moderate income areas.
Hamilton told the council that the city had to find projects that met those requirements. Projects that could meet the May 2018 deadline took precedent.
The remaining $900,000 from the sale of the building and land went back into the general fund, Hamilton said.
In addition to the Hope Center, the $2.1 million will also be used to pay for $1.2 million in various park improvement projects in low-income areas. Approximately $160,000 will go to the Family Care Center to transform an interior courtyard into an amphitheater, which can double as an indoor classroom and performance space. More than $466,000 will go to help pay for a 58 multifamily affordable housing project on Leestown Road for at-risk veterans and their families. Approximately $100,000 will go to AIDS Volunteers Inc. or AVOL to rehabilitate two buildings that house people living with HIV or AIDS.
The Urban County Council must approve the re-allocation of the $2.1 million. It is expected to take a final vote later this month.
UK officials have not yet decided what it will do with the former senior citizens center, said Kathy Johnson, a spokeswoman for UK. “We do plan to use the parking spaces available at that site. The spaces there will be incorporated into our parking enterprise,” Johnson said.
The property is located on the corner of Alumni Drive and Nicholasville Road and is near UK’s football stadium now called Kroger Field.