Lexington Council considering a major boost in money for homelessness prevention and intervention

WEKU | By Stu Johnson

Lexington’s City Council is considering a substantial boost in funding for addressing homelessness-related issues. A change in the funding mechanism passed out of committee this week.

Currently, funding for the City’s Office of Homelessness Prevention and Intervention registers $750,000. The modification, sent on to the full Council, bases support at a percentage of revenues. That would roughly double funding to $1.5 million. Council Member Jennifer Reynolds supports the change.

“Over the past year especially it has become very clear to me that we are actually severely underfunding our prevention and intervention efforts around homelessness,” said Reynolds.

 Reynolds called constituent calls and concerns “nonstop.” Council Member Fred Brown cast the lone no vote, saying this type of designated funding could complicate budgeting for future Councils.

Jeff Herron directs the program. Herron said this increase could further services in conjunction with funding going to build more affordable housing.

 “This is not just solely about getting somebody out of a literal homeless situation, but also giving them the supports and the tools that they need to remain in permanent housing and not experience future returns to homelessness,” said Herron.

Herron said a move from $750,000 to $1.5 million would lead to a timelier response when street outreach workers find a need. He noted there’s not enough money currently for something like eviction diversion. Herron added the additional money would not be used heavily for emergency sheltering.

 If approved, the new approach would go into effect for the fiscal year starting next July.

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Republished with permission. Photo by Stu Johnson.