Op-Ed: Another Lesson We’ve Learned from the Pandemic? More Workforce Housing is a Necessity

Anthony D. Elmore,
Chief Operating Officer of Wabuck Development Company, Inc.
Michael B. Gross,
Development Director of LDG Multifamily
Mike A. Hynes,
Chairman of the Kentucky Affordable Housing Coalition. Inc.
Tammy J. Stansbury,
Secretary of the Kentucky Affordable Housing Coalition, Inc.

No one will argue that the past year and a half have been a challenge for all of us, but there is no possible way we, as a society, can give enough thanks to those that have been at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic. The selfless drive among frontline workers to work countless hours has been nothing short of remarkable.

These frontline workers are our neighbors and our friends, and they’re also our communities’ heroes. They’re the firefighter down the street, the nurse we see at the grocery and the sales clerk working at your neighborhood pharmacy. They’re the ones sacrificing their own health and safety on a regular basis to put others’ health and safety first.

But in recent years, despite putting themselves in harms’ way to serve our communities, many of our frontline workers have to stress about basic living situations. They are forced to spend entirely too much on housing costs because of the lack of affordable options.

It’s no secret that Kentucky is among many other states in our country experiencing a housing crisis. There simply aren’t enough affordable housing options for far too many Kentuckians, including our frontline workers like nurses, police, firefighters, and more.

Even before the pandemic, it was estimated that Kentucky was short 75,000 homes for working families. With the pandemic still raging and an increase to labor and supply costs, this crisis has only worsened.

Too many people – nearly a quarter of Kentuckians – are spending more than half of their income on housing costs. That means that many of our friends, neighbors and frontline workers are struggling to pay for home rental costs, leading them to live paycheck to paycheck and choose what bills to pay and which to leave for another day. This simply isn’t acceptable!

Fortunately, there is a reasonable solution to bring more workforce housing options to Kentuckians and we recently launched the Commonwealth Alliance for Housing Solutions to help make it possible. As a group of community leaders, respected businesses and a variety of organizations, we have banded together to call on the Kentucky General Assembly to pass workforce housing tax credits to help solve the ongoing housing crisis in Kentucky. This is a winning solution for our state and for our neighbors.

Everyone needs and deserves to live in a safe, affordable home – that’s a given. But developing workforce housing tax credits has also proven to be a financial victory for many other states that have enacted these credits. It’s estimated that $790.2 million of combined construction and operating tax revenues would go to state, county and local governments if we were to enact these credits.

And while we have highlighted the importance of affordable housing for our frontline workers – please know that they’re not alone in this need for housing solutions. Our retired workforce, veterans, and thousands of children are also among those effected by the lack of affordable housing options.

More than 20 other states across our country have already established housing tax credits. Let’s not get left behind. Join us in asking our General Assembly to pass important workforce housing tax credit legislation in 2022. It’s the least we can do for our frontline workers and thousands of other hard-working individuals and families in our Commonwealth.


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