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Opinion – Letter to Editor: Legislature needs to pay more attention to housing needs of ‘ordinary’ Kyians

The state legislature has started to meet this week, but are they focusing on the right things, the things that will really matter to us?

I think they need to pay more attention to housing needs for ordinary Kentuckians, and fund that need in their new budget.

Here in Covington and elsewhere there’s a major problem with affordable housing – an issue that’s far broader than just among the poor. Many of my neighbors are working in hospitality, retail and public service and are making around $36,000 per year – which would not usually be considered as ‘poor.’ Federal HUD tells us that people should expect to pay 30% for housing. That would be about $900 a month. 

But apartments for $900 a month are quite rare in Covington, or in many communities in Northern Kentucky, and in most new construction rents start at $1200 for a studio. I pay $1511 per month for a small one bedroom in downtown Covington, and that’s the going rate. Where are people supposed to go? Local governments are helping these not-affordable places with tax abatements.

There are ways to address this problem. With improved state government support, small non-profits know how to pull together financing for affordable places, with federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits and other options. In Cincinnati small groups like Over the Rhine Community Housing are doing exactly that.

I urge legislators to figure out how to allocate more of the state budget to these sorts of initiatives – as they’ll help a broad spectrum of the state population. And I urge my fellow Kentuckians to join me in giving voice to this need. 

Thurman Wenzl
730 Washington

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