Lexington task force discusses ways to reduce gun violence, put abandoned properties back into communities

WEKU | By Shepherd Snyder

Members of Lexington’s Community Pillars Gun Violence Task Force discussed Thursday evening on how to reduce incidents by renovating abandoned properties or vacant lots across the city.

They looked at a University of Pennsylvania study that showed renovating those properties reduced incidents in Philadelphia by nearly 40 percent in one year. One possibility was using conservatorship programs, like those in Louisville, to assign local nonprofits to renovate the abandoned properties.

Jennifer Reynolds is a member of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council and helps lead the task force. She says it was organized after instances of gun violence increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I really wanted to work with leaders in the community, elected officials, public safety… people that have been intimately affected by gun violence, or are even victims themselves,” Reynolds said.

Alexis Nickols is a member of the task force. She says it’s important those renovated homes end up owned by members of the communities they’re in.

“We want to be very sure that any program that we build here that might address this prioritizes equitable homeownership and prevent gentrification,” Nickols said.

Members of the task force say they’d also like to add more spaces around Lexington for nonprofits to work on the issue, as well as with youth and families.

Photo: An abandoned church on N MLK Blvd. (The Lexington Times)