Last week the Urban County Council received deserved congratulations for voting unanimously to fund affordable housing and homelessness initiatives.
Both projects — jump-started this year with funds from a budget surplus — promise to make Lexington a better place to live, not only for those who will receive the services but for the entire community.
It is very hard to be productive without stable, safe, secure housing, something many of us take for granted.
When housing problems make it difficult for adults to find and keep jobs and for kids to get to school and do well there, the entire community loses.
The council also took an important, less-heralded step to support neighborhoods afflicted by blighted and neglected buildings by approving a tax increase for properties that have been certified as abandoned and vacant.
The increase, $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value, would raise taxes on a $100,000 home from $1,164 a year to $2,164, for example.
Only two council members voted against the added tax, Ed Lane and Jennifer Scutchfield.
To be certified as abandoned, a building must not have had water service for more than 12 months, have had previous building-code violations or have been reported as vacant or abandoned.
Once a property has been certified as abandoned, owners are notified and have the opportunity to appeal the certification or improve the property to avoid the additional tax.
The point isn't to punish owners or to raise revenue but to encourage owners to fix their properties or sell them to someone who will. So rather than continue on a course of demolition by neglect, a property would be returned to productive use.
This is an important protection for neighbors who suffer from living near abandoned properties.
Not only do they depress property values, they often house unwanted tenants, whether humans engaged in criminal activity or animal pests, that can be dangerous for those living or working nearby.
Neighborhoods are the backbone of any community. For Lexington to prosper. families must feel secure investing in their homes without fear of losing value and safety because the owner of a nearby property can't or won't maintain it.
This measure helps give them that security.