FRANKFORT, Ky. — After the July flood filled their Letcher County home, Arnold Weaver and his wife thought about rebuilding, but were frightened every time it rained. 

What You Need To Know

  • Kentucky affordable housing advocates and flood survivors gathered at the Capitol Tuesday to push for an emergency recovery trust fund

  • A new report estimates it will cost between $450 million and $950 million to rebuild approximately 9,000 flood-damaged homes  

  • Wednesday is the deadline for filing new House bills  

  • Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, said Tuesday that he is currently working on a proposal to address housing issues

"We didn’t know what to do," he said. "We were stressing about it and we even thought about leaving Kentucky altogether." 

A report from the Ohio River Valley Institute and Appalachian Citizens' Law Center released this week estimates it will cost between $450 million and $950 million to rebuild approximately 9,000 flood-damaged homes. 

Tuesday, advocates called on lawmakers to create and fund the Affordable Housing Emergency Action Recovery Trust Fund (AHEART) to support nonprofits and partners in addressing housing needs. 

"Housing can’t wait in Western Kentucky, where folks are still rebuilding from those tornadoes," said Scott McReynolds, executive director of the Housing Development Alliance. "Housing can’t wait in our cities where the pandemic devastated ... a housing market that was already fragile from years of disinvestment, and housing surely can’t wait in Eastern Kentucky where thousands and thousands of people do not have a home." 

Weaver and his wife were able to purchase a new home built for flood survivors from the nonprofit HOMES, Inc., but so many others are stranded, he said.  

"A lot of them are building back in the flood zone that got flooded because they have no other choice," said Weaver. "They have nowhere to go and then they’re scared every time it rains. Every time the river rises, they’re scared, so we just need some help. We need some recognition what’s going on down there."

During a special session in August, lawmakers approved nearly $213 million for Eastern Kentucky relief. 

Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, attempted to add more money for affordable housing, but that amendment failed. 

Smith said Tuesday that he is currently working on a proposal to address housing issues. 

In recent months, state officials have announced two sites to build new homes on higher ground with construction partially funded by the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund.