Sen. Jimmy Higdon appointed to Housing Task Force; 2024 interim session convenes


Tuesday, June 4, 2024 — Senate President Robert Stivers has appointed Sen. Jimmy Higdon to the Kentucky Housing Task Force. This task force will convene monthly throughout the 2024 Interim and focus on addressing the state’s housing challenges.


The Kentucky Housing Task Force aims to:

— Conduct a demographic analysis considering housing costs, population demographics, and employment opportunities.

— Examine state and local laws, regulations, policies, and procedures on housing.

— Analyze the availability and accessibility of housing, including housing costs, utility expenses, and access to healthcare services.

— Evaluate land use practices, zoning regulations, infrastructure development, and community planning.
— Review initiatives and policy changes from other states to increase housing supply and promote homeownership.

The task force also allows members the opportunity to review the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) response to the recent two natural disasters—flooding in eastern Kentucky and tornadoes in western Kentucky.

“I am honored to be named to this critical task force and appreciate President Stivers’ trust in me,” Higdon said. “Housing is a fundamental issue affecting all Kentuckians, and we must find solutions that make housing more affordable and accessible. This task force will work to explore and recommend state policies that may help buffer the continued negative impacts from inflation and more.”

INTERIM BEGINS. Higdon and fellow lawmakers returned to Frankfort for the 2024 Interim on Tuesday. The interim serves as a primer for the 2025 30-day Legislative Session, as lawmakers receive updates on previously enacted legislation, hear from stakeholders on various public policy areas, and analyze policy options and proposals to consider.

Higdon, who serves as chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, is co-chair of the Interim Joint Committee (IJC) on Transportation alongside House co-chair John Blanton, R-Salyersville. Additionally, Higdon is a member of the IJCs on Education; Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations; and Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection. He also serves as co-chair of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Transportation, and he co-chairs the statutory Public Pension Oversight Board.

Visit legislature.ky.gov to view the 2024 Interim calendar. The dates and times for task force meetings have not yet been determined, but they will be reflected on the calendar once decided.

ACTING ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING. During the 2024 Legislative Session, Higdon and the Kentucky General Assembly took significant steps to address affordable housing. A $10 million state appropriation was allocated to support an affordable housing initiative in Lexington, focusing on infrastructure development necessary for future housing projects. This funding will help establish essential services such as sewer and water lines, prepare land for development, and promote affordable housing.

In Louisville, lawmakers allocated $50 million to the Louisville Metro Government for various transformative city projects, including the Community Care Campus.

This initiative aims to provide emergency housing services, family shelters, and permanent affordable housing, addressing the pressing issue of homelessness that affects nearly 11,000 individuals in Jefferson County annually.

Additionally, a federal government funding package passed earlier this year included over $12 million in federal funds to support infrastructure, economic development, and neighborhood projects in Louisville.

These funds will help transform empty buildings into commercial spaces and homes and develop community spaces, fostering economic growth and housing accessibility.

HOUSING CRISIS. The task force’s creation comes at a time when housing availability and affordability are increasingly intertwined with the future economic success of regions across Kentucky. Studies have shown that nearly one in four households in Northern Kentucky, for example, are paying more than 30 percent of their income toward housing costs, a threshold that signifies significant financial strain.

Rising housing costs have been attributed to increased inflation over the last two years, significantly impacting residents’ ability to find affordable housing. A factor is the misalignment in employees’ salaries compared to the rising cost of housing. Additionally, job creation outpacing affordable workforce housing availability is a growing economic disparity.

HOUSING: A STATEWIDE CHALLENGE. The issues faced by regions across the state reflect broader statewide and national trends. As regions across the U.S. grapple with high housing demand, low inventory, and rising mortgage rates, available affordable housing becomes more complex. Policymakers are tasked with finding innovative solutions to promote housing development while maintaining affordability.

GOING FORWARD. The Kentucky Housing Task Force will be pivotal in shaping state housing policies. By examining successful strategies from other states, assessing current housing conditions, and providing comprehensive recommendations, the task force aims to create a sustainable path forward. These efforts will be crucial in ensuring Kentucky’s housing market can meet the needs of its residents and support broader economic growth.

The Kentucky General Assembly is committed to tackling housing issues head-on. The task force’s work will culminate in a detailed report with actionable recommendations submitted to the Legislative Research Commission by Dec. 1, 2024. This initiative represents a proactive approach to addressing one of the most pressing issues facing Kentuckians today.


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