Kentucky housing leaders recognize Representative Randy Bridges at Scholar House
Paducah, KY, October 28, 2020…When lifelong Kentuckian Heather Peck’s marriage broke up a few years ago, she and her two daughters moved in temporarily with her father. The family couldn’t afford a home of their own and Peck worried about balancing the care of her children while working long hours to pay rent. A childhood dream of becoming a teacher seemed unattainable. That’s until she found Paducah’s Scholar House, an affordable apartment community for families whose head of household goes to school full-time. Peck and her two girls Jackie (11) and Jessi (10) moved into a two-bedroom apartment in early 2018. She is now a junior at Murray State University, majoring in Elementary Education and Language/Behavior Disorders. “If we didn’t live here, I don’t know what I’d have done,” says Peck.
Scholar House is a private affordable housing development that was financed, in part, through federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) allocated by the Kentucky Housing Corporation. In addition to 46 apartment units, the community offers onsite daycare and Head Start, a computer lab, and workshops and assistance in a life-skills such as household budgeting, resume and job search skills, parenting, and wellness.
Since 1986, LIHTC developments, including affordable rental housing for working families, seniors, persons with disabilities, and single parents, have served approximately 88,782 low-income households in Kentucky, while contributing $4.1 billion in added jobs, wages, and business income, plus $1.6 billion in tax revenue, according to affordable housing advocacy group ACTION.
Scholar House served as the location today for a special award presentation to Kentucky Representative Randy Bridges who is leading efforts in the Kentucky legislature to expand affordable housing opportunities. He has been a champion of the Kentucky Affordable Housing Tax Credit bill proposed last year and he is the co-chair of the Affordable Housing Caucus. The award to Representative Bridges was spearheaded by the Kentucky Affordable Housing Coalition, a group of housing advocates and private developers.
Speakers at today’s event stressed the critical need for additional resources in Kentucky to build more affordable homes and referenced some sobering Kentucky housing facts:
- Approximately 21% of renters spend more than half of their income on rental costs. ( National Low Income Housing Coalition )
- Over 200,000 households are at risk of eviction over the next few months due to missed rental payments (National Coalition for the Civil Right to Counsel)
- Prior to the pandemic, there was an estimated shortage of approximately 75,000 affordable rental units for extremely low-income families (National Low Income Housing Coalition)
“Families are hurting, living paycheck to paycheck, where one unexpected health care cost, a broken car, or child care issues can cause a family to be in extreme risk of losing their housing at any moment,” said Representative Bridges. The pandemic has magnified this situation.”
Housing is critical for families to thrive
Kentucky Affordable Housing Coalition President Mike Hynes emphasized the impact housing has on families. “When people cannot find an affordable place to live, trying to keep and maintain a steady job is difficult,” said Hynes. “On the flipside, it has been documented that children better thrive and high school graduation rates increase when families live in affordable housing. What’s more, health care costs go down and families are able to build savings. That’s when upward mobility becomes a reality.”
Scholar House resident Savana Watson says her move to the affordable community in early 2020 was an important step forward for herself and her daughter, Oaklyn. Oaklyn, age 3, now attends an early childhood program at the apartment community’s onsite Head Start program where she’s mastered a number of preliteracy skills and made many friends. While Oaklyn is at the early childhood center, Watson has been able to restart schooling at Western Kentucky Community and Technical College (WKCTC) where she is studying criminal justice. She is also enrolled in the work-study program at WKCTC which provides a part-time paid job assisting in Scholar House’s management office. “Scholar House has been a huge blessing for my life,” relates Watson.
Hynes notes that affordable housing helps not only struggling Kentucky families, but the state economy as well. “Investing in affordable housing infrastructure has numerous benefits for the economy—it creates jobs, boosts families’ incomes, and encourages further development,” he says.
Representative Bridges called Scholar House an excellent example of what is possible through public and private sectors working together with assistance from the LIHTC program. He said he plans to introduce the Kentucky Affordable Housing Tax Credit bill again in 2021. “Enacting a state tax credit program is imperative to help our state’s working families and boost to our economy.”
According to a report commissioned by the Kentucky Affordable Housing Coalition by Elliot D. Pollack and Company, a Kentucky affordable housing state tax credit could produce approximately 6,500 additional affordable housing units over five years.
Today’s event illustrated how affordable housing is a lifeline for many Kentuckians. “I’m so thankful for Scholar House,” said resident Peck. “It is amazing.”
About Kentucky Affordable Housing Coalition
Kentucky Affordable Housing Coalition was created to serve as the leading voice of affordable housing development throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Its goal is to promote policy, education and growth of affordable housing development in Kentucky. Membership is made of developers, syndicators, financial institutions, architects, market analysts, realtors, attorneys, and property managers that work to provide affordable multifamily housing.