A longtime employee of the Community Action Council has been tapped as the city's first coordinator of homeless services.
Mayor Jim Gray announced Friday that Charlie Lanter, who has worked for the Community Action Council since 2005, will help the city better coordinate homeless services and implement new programs to target the chronically homeless.
The announcement comes more than 14 months after a 2012 task force on homelessness and housing recommended creating an office for homelessness.
"Lexington has many amazing service providers and community partners helping people who are experiencing homelessness or are on the verge of becoming homeless," Gray said. "We have made great strides over the years, but we can do better."
The Urban County Council recently agreed to set aside $3.5 million of a projected surplus for homelessness and affordable housing initiatives. Of that money, $500,000 will go toward homeless programs and $3 million will address affordable housing.
Next week, Planning Commissioner Derek Paulsen will update the council on how the city will implement its affordable housing program.
Lexington is thought to be the only city in Kentucky with a coordinator that concentrates solely on homeless issues.
Lanter will help the city and providers use data to better coordinate services to move more people off the streets. He also will help develop a program called "housing first," which will address Lexington's chronically homeless. The number of chronically homeless in Lexington has remained stubbornly consistent for several years, according to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. But it's the chronically homeless that often cost the system the most money, multiple studies have shown.
Gray convened the task force in 2012 because of multiple issues involving Lexington's homeless population. Those problems included controversy surrounding the opening of a day center in downtown Lexington and a homeless shelter on Winchester Road.
"This is a big step toward ensuring a more livable city for the most vulnerable of our citizens, and I am honored and humbled to lead the new office," Lanter said. "I look forward to working side by side with our citizens, stakeholders, and people experiencing homelessness to ensure everyone is able to thrive and productively enjoy our community."
Lanter, a graduate of Tates Creek High School and Western Kentucky University, will begin in May. His salary will be $74,500.
Lanter has served as the Director of Planning, Communications and Advancement for the Community Action Council since 2007. He joined the council in 2005 and was promoted twice within two years.