Affordable housing advocates on Wednesday recognized efforts in Paducah to provide affordable housing to full time students, low-income families, single parents, and those with disabilities.
Heather Peck is a resident of the Scholar House in Paducah, a private affordable housing development financed in part through federal tax credits from the Kentucky Housing Corporation.
“If we didn't live here, I don't know what I’d have done,” Peck said in a statement. She said her two daughters were in need of an affordable home after Peck’s marriage ended, with the Scholar’s House providing a home. The initiative provides an affordable apartment community for families whose head of household also attends school full-time. Peck is now a junior at Murray State University, majoring in Elementary Education and Language/Behavior.
A release from the Kentucky Affordable Housing Coalition states that Low Income Housing Tax Credits have served approximately 88,782 low-income households in Kentucky while contributing to $4.1 billion in added jobs, wages, and business income, plus $1.6 billion in tax revenue, according to the affordable housing advocacy group ACTION.
The Scholar House has 46 apartments, onsite daycare and Head Start. Program participants can receive counseling, and support from neighbors and staff, while fulfilling academic or vocational training coursework as full-time students. Participants can also attend workshops to enhance parenting skills and job search techniques.
State Rep. Republican Randy Bridges was also recognized at the Scholar’s House on Wednesday for his leading efforts in the Kentucky legislature to expand affordable housing opportunities.
Rep. Bridges is a co-chair of the Affordable Housing Caucus. He said the Scholar House is “an excellent example of what is possible through public and private sectors working together from the LIHTC program.”
He also said he has plans to introduce a bill to create a state affordable housing credit again in 2021, legislation that got little traction when introduced in this year’s legislative session. Bridges is seeking re-election this fall, facing Democrat Corbin Snardon.
“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,” Bridges said in a statement. “The pandemic has magnified this situation.”
Special guest speakers at the event also stressed the critical need for additional resources in Kentucky to build more affordable homes, and referenced some sobering Kentucky housing statistics, including how more than 200,000 households are at risk of eviction in the upcoming months due to missed rental payments, according to the National Coalition for the Civil Right to Counsel.
“When people cannot find an affordable place to live, trying to keep and maintain a steady job is difficult,” said Mike Hynes, President of the Kentucky Affordable Housing Coalition. “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.”