Housing capacity during second COVID-19 year | News

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an eviction moratorium order on Tuesday allowing more time for renters facing economic hardship to prepare for possible eviction and plan for stable housing.

A previous CDC eviction moratorium order expired on July 31. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky issued a new order to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 variants, according to a CDC news release.

“The emergence of the delta variant has led to a rapid acceleration of community transmission in the United States, putting more Americans at increased risk, especially if they are unvaccinated. This moratorium is the right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads,” she said in the news release.

The order applies to areas experiencing substantial and high levels of community transmission levels of COVID-19. As of Friday, 113 of the 120 Kentucky counties were exhibiting high levels of community transmission, according to the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker.

Caldwell County housing capacity has adapted to COVID-19 pandemic conditions. Debbie East, executive director of the Housing Authority of Princeton, said the public housing waiting list is shorter than it has been in the past.

The public housing capacity for Princeton is 106 units — with three current vacancies. Despite the Housing Authority of Princeton providing affordable housing for residents, there still are tenants seeking emergency relief.

“For me it is low, probably lower than private landlords because it’s public housing, the rent is subsidized by the federal government already,” East said. “I don’t have a large number — at this time — who are needing assistance.”

The housing authority receives federal funding, which has slightly increased, East said.

Since public housing is based on the tenant’s income, the highest rental rate would be 80% of the Fair Market Rent (FMR) in Caldwell County. The National Low Income Housing Coalition released its annual report, Out of Reach 2021: The High Cost of Housing. It indicated the Kentucky FMR for a two-bedroom apartment is $821 — it’s $663 in Caldwell County.

Further, to afford a two-bedroom apartment at FMR, Caldwell County residents must earn a $12.75 hourly wage, the report indicated. The minimum wage in Kentucky is $7.25.

Low-income residents who own homes have access to the Pennyrile Housing Corporation, a component of the Pennyrile Area Development District. PHC is a service for low-to-moderate-income residents of the Pennyrile region. Its two primary programs are housing rehabilitation and homeownership.

PeADD Community and Economic Development Associate Director Amy Frogue said the program has been impacted by COVID-19.

“The pandemic has greatly affected the housing rehabilitation program, in that it has substantially driven up the cost of rehab — the cost of materials, the cost of labor,” Frogue said. “If the cost of those repairs is greater than the value of the home, then we completely tear it down and rebuild.”

Kentucky homeowners will have access to the state’s $85.4 million as part of the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF), established in March by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Kentucky Housing Corporation is one of PeADD’s partners.

KHC received $23 million in Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG-CV) funds, with the passage of the CARES Act last year.

As a result, KHC has funded more than $15 million in ESG-CV Rapid Re-housing programs. In Caldwell County, their partners include the Salvation Army in Hopkinsville and Sanctuary Inc.

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