Nearly a quarter of Kentuckians spend half of their income on home rental costs, leading many to struggle and live paycheck to paycheck. Tuesday, Representative Randy Bridges (R-Paducah) pre-filed a bill to establish a workforce housing credit to provide relief and increase state revenue.
“I want to first put into perspective just why we call this a crisis,” said Bridges. “As I stand here today, thousands of Kentuckians are not able to afford housing with our current options. Approximately 21% of Kentuckians put more than half of their income towards housing costs. Estimates say we are about 75,000 homes short in our state.”
The Commonwealth Alliance for Housing Solutions hosted the announcement. Executive Director Tiffany Marthaler cited 20 other states with state workforce housing tax credit programs that have increased available units without harming the budget.
Marthaler stated that the $12 million workforce housing credit program would target working Kentuckians who meet specific economic criteria. The plan would sunset after five years.
A similar program in Georgia created real homes and generated $150 million in local income, $40 million in tax and government revenue, and 2,073 jobs.
Representative Kim Banta (R-Fort Mitchell) will sign on as primary cosponsor. She insisted that this crisis has long existed in Kentucky, but it needs addressing now. “When I think about who this legislation is for – I think of the single mother who was forced to leave her job in the last year to become a childcare provider and teacher. I think of the worker who lost their job when their company was forced to close,” said Banta. “I think of the veteran, who for the last year struggled to get the unemployment insurance they deserved and now faces more stress. We should consider it our duty that these people have access to affordable living.”
Cities of all sizes across the commonwealth have faced the issue. Last week, KLC hosted the Housing and Hope Summit, where attendees examined possible solutions to the affordable housing crisis.
“Now is the time to take on this issue,” explained Kentucky League of Cities Executive Director/CEO J.D. Chaney. “New census data shows that cities are growing and now account for 56% of Kentucky’s population, a 7.1% increase from 2010 to 2020. As we welcome new residents into our city limits, it becomes even more vital that we ensure they have a safe and enjoyable place to live and work. Affording housing is a critical component to quality of life, and city leaders have an important voice as we work on solutions. KLC and our members are ready and willing to be part of the discussion.”
Legislators will return to Frankfort for the start of the 2022 General Assembly on January 4.