City's dearth of affordable housing

There have been studies and reports about the lack of affordable housing in Lexington, but the problem took on a totally human dimension Tuesday afternoon at an Urban County Council meeting.

The discussion was about how, if at all, the city can assist residents of Lexington Housing Authority's Pimlico Apartments, which are slated for a renovation that will cause about 170 low-income tenants to move.

The human cost of our community's lack of safe, affordable housing was evident as single mothers and others stood at the podium describing the problems they're encountering looking for affordable housing, finding money for deposits and, in general, dealing with the complexities of moving,

The council had no answer beyond acting as a negotiator to improve communication with the Housing Authority, because, although many private charitable organizations have programs to assist people in need, there is no citywide coordinated approach to helping people with limited resources find a safe place to live.

Fortunately, that could change very soon.

A task force that studied homelessness and affordable housing last month recommended raising the insurance premium fee one percent to create an affordable housing trust fund and an office to coordinate the city's affordable housing efforts.

Mayor Jim Gray has not recommended the fee increase but did include money to establish an office on homelessness in the budget he's proposed for the coming year.

The need was clear Tuesday as it became evident that the challenge of relocating 170 low-income families overloads our supply of affordable housing.

This is a problem begging for a full-time, professional, coordinated response, which the office on homelessness can provide.

It is an important proposal and one the council should fund.