Kentucky Elections

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear

(The Center Square) – Kentucky’s two largest cities will receive nearly $39 million in state funding to help renters avoid evictions.

The money for Louisville and Lexington comes from a state program for rental assistance. A COVID-19 relief bill passed by Congress in December 2020 established rental aid programs for states. Cities, though, could apply for their own funds, which is what the two communities did.

In a statement Tuesday, Gov. Andy Beshear said the formula for determining local aid did not give the cities as much funding as they anticipated. Last June, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton asked the state for assistance.

On Tuesday, the state directed $27 million to Louisville and $11.7 million to Lexington.

The funding will help renters facing issues paying rent or utilities due to the pandemic. It offers households up to 18 months of rental assistance, including back rent dated to March 13, 2020. Help with future rent payments may be available as well.

“Whether it is the loss of income due to a family member’s death or continued medical bill hardships brought on by COVID, we owe it to those harmed by the pandemic to help them in this unprecedented time of need,” Beshear said in a statement.

In Louisville, the program covers rent assistance. More than 42,000 residents have received support through January, according to the city and more than $96 million has been distributed in funding.

The city is still processing about 2,700 applications, which the state’s contribution will help cover. As of now, Louisville officials expect the window for applications to close at the end of the month.

“The rental assistance programs have been a lifeline for many of our residents, and we recognize the tremendous demand that remains,” said Fischer, who added Louisville will keep looking to find long-term answers to address affordable housing needs.

Lexington’s program also includes help with utility payments and other housing costs.

“These funds have been essential, allowing us to keep people in their homes,” Gorton said. “These funds have gone to people who are truly low income – 88% of those who have received rent assistance have had incomes lower than 50 percent of our area’s median income.”

Including Tuesday’s allocations, Louisville has received $54 million from the state program. The state has given Lexington $23.4 million.

Kentucky received $264 million from the federal government for its emergency rental assistance program. The state has allocated nearly $120 million to more than 25,000 families across the state. Of that funding, $108 million has been issued for rental assistance and $12.8 to cover utility expenses.

The state has $55.9 million left in its program. That money and the cities’ funding must be allocated by Sept. 30.