More legal counseling coming to Lexington tenants fighting eviction

WEKU | By Stu Johnson
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Lexington’s Housing Stabilization Program is expanding services for tenants facing eviction. The expansion includes a focus on mediation with landlords and tenant legal counsel.

Legal Aid of the Bluegrass and Kentucky Equal Justice Center will use almost $2 million in federal dollars to support this effort. Emma Anderson is with the Kentucky Tenants organization. She said legal counsel for tenants is very important since most today do not have such help.

“And so, having representation will, I mean, if it doesn’t set off an eviction, it will at least give a tenant more time. It will give a tenant more dignity in the situation and make the process less of a checkbox,” said Anderson.

Housing Advocacy and Community Development Commissioner Charlie Lanter noted this program will reduce the number of evictions. In some cases, Lanter added tenants will still have to move, but given more time to do so.

“When tenants go in and their facing eviction, 99% of the time the landlord is represented by an attorney, 99% of the time the tenant is not. And so, you can imagine that certainly no matter, even with the best of intentions. No one is accusing anyone of doing anything wrong if you’re trying your best, that’s a huge power imbalance,” said Lanter.

Lanter expects the program to reduce final judgments resulting in eviction. The Housing Stabilization Program has provided more than $46 million of assistance to over 63 hundred Lexington households and 11 hundred landlords since early 2021.

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Photo: Housing Advocacy and Community Development Commissioner Charlie Lanter Detailing Eviction Prevention Program.(Stu Johnson for WEKU)