Central Kentucky chapter and allies celebrate Lexington's Affordable Housing Trust Fund

Justice HouseOn September 11, members of the Central Kentucky KFTC Chapter stood with allies in the Lexington Fayette Urban County Council meeting and gave the mayor and council a thunderous round of applause – the council voted 12-0 to approve funding and oversight for a city affordable housing trust fund.

The council voted to designate $2 million to the trust fund that will be used to encourage the rehabilitation or construction of housing that lower-income residents can afford. The Central Kentucky chapter jumped into the campaign around 18 months ago and were thrilled to stand beside allies, such as members of BUILD (Building a United Interfaith Lexington Through Direct Action), and celebrate.

One of the most powerful ways CKY KFTC engaged was to host an Affordable Housing Community Breakfast and Walking Tour at Christian and Tanya Torp’s home in the East End community of Lexington on August 16. Approximately 50 people, inclusing Mayor Jim Gray, LFUCG Council members Chris Ford, Steve Kay, Jennifer Mossotti, and Kevin Stinnett, and Senator Reggie Thomas, gathered at Christian and Tanya’s home to have breakfast and to hear testimony from folks who are directly impacted by the affordable housing crisis in Lexington.Breakfast Panel 2

During breakfast, the community got to hear from a panel of directly impacted community members. Greg Capillo told the crowd about his experience living in a home where his roommate had the ceiling fall in on him and they have had a series of plumbing issues. “We love Lexington. We love this city. I’ve made a conscious choice to put roots here,” Capillo said. “We’re between a rock and a hard place. We can’t afford to move.”

A young mother shared her story of being homeless and living at the Salvation Army. She now lives at Coolivan Apartments and has received a notice on the door of her apartment that she will be moving again because the apartments were sold.

We heard from Faith Calhoun, a college graduate and a mother, who on some paperwork is considered homeless because she is living with a friend. “As a college graduate, this was not the life I imagined. I don’t want my daughter to live a life of instability.” Faith has three part-time jobs, but is still unable to maintain housing. “I don’t think it’s fair for me to work as hard as I do and not be able to have a roof over my head.”

Anna Caise told the crowd that 83% of her social security check goes to pay her rent. “For seniors it’s hard to find an affordable, safe place to live. I’m one paycheck away from being homeless.”

And, even the day’s hostess, Tanya Torp, shared her story. “When I worked for United Way, I qualified for all of their programs, “ she told the crowd. “We want to live in a Lexington that is fair and open to everyone. For that to happen, we have to make some changes.”
walking tour neighbor 2

After breakfast, guests took a walking tour of the neighborhood starting with Hazel, the neighbor across the street. Hazel and her husband pay $570 for one bedroom in a house that is falling apart. Hazel had a heat stroke in her own apartment because there is no air conditioning. The landlord gets $4,000 for one or two houses. In lieu of rent they work for the landlord for $20 a day and if they complain they get fired or have to move.

The crowd saw three more homes on the tour where each person struggled to pay their rent or their mortgage and faced major challenges with the upkeep of their homes.

At the end of the tour, Tanya Torp wrapped it up by giving a great summary of the day. “Thanks to the mayor and the council members for listening. You usually have the mic, but today we gave the community the mic.” And the chapter really did.

The Central Kentucky chapter plans to keep watching the trust fund and working with allies to ensure that the trust fund is used in the most effective way possible and to help those in the most need of fair, affordable housing.

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