Kentucky Association of Counties

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Kentucky Association of Counties


County Champion


County housing shortages in 2024

Every county in Kentucky had housing shortages in 2024.

According to analysis released by the Kentucky Housing Corporation (KHC) earlier this year, Kentucky has an overall housing gap of 206,207 units. Approximately half of the gap is in the rental market (101,569 units) and half is among for-sale units (104,638 units).

During the first stops on the 2024 KACo Listening Tour, many county leaders have expressed their concerns over the lack of housing and housing affordability in their communities. County officials are invited to join us on a listening tour stop near you. See a schedule here.

All 120 counties are facing a housing gap, including both rural and urban areas. In fact, many rural markets in Kentucky have disproportionately high shares of housing gaps relative to their overall number of households.

While housing shortages are more prevalent among lower income households, there are gaps in every income category.

“The housing supply shortage is Kentucky’s most urgent housing issue,” said Wendy Smith, KHC’s deputy executive director of housing programs. “It’s impacting middle-income Kentuckians and poor Kentuckians alike.  Increasing our housing supply is key to increasing homeownership rates, lowering housing costs, and reducing housing instability and homelessness.”

In the rental housing market, housing gaps are most prevalent among the lowest income households. In 2024, there was a housing gap of 60,385 rental units for households earning up to 30% of Area Median Income (AMI). In the for-sale housing market, gaps are distributed relatively evenly among different income levels.

County housing gaps

In terms of total housing units needed, the most populated counties also have the biggest housing gaps, including Jefferson (40,079 units), Fayette (22,549 units), Boone (11,350 units), Kenton (9,157 units) and Warren (6,984 units). 

However, when looking at the ratio of housing gaps to the number of households for each county, a different picture emerges. Several counties with more rural markets are among the counties with the largest housing gaps. The counties with the highest housing gap ratios include Boone (22.1%), Carroll (21.6%), Marshall (21.5%), Franklin (20.2%) and McLean (18.4%).

Download county-by-county data here.

Contributing factors

KHC highlights several contributing factors to the housing supply gap:
  • Kentucky’s shortage was exacerbated by several factors, including the two natural disasters, which combined destroyed nearly 5,000 units.
  • Many of Kentucky’s construction companies, particularly those who built smaller homes, closed during the 2008 recession or 2020 pandemic. Others have a difficult time getting access to credit and have slowed production.
  • Most “starter homes” for first-time homebuyers are around 1,400 square feet. However, in the last 40 years, production on homes with 1,400 square feet or less has slowed dramatically, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report. Of the 1 million single family homes completed in 2022, the median size was 2,299 square feet.
  • As need for more affordable multifamily units has grown, federal funding for these types of developments has remained the same, and there is little to no public funding for affordable single-family, middle-income housing.
  • Simultaneously, the economy is booming, which increases the need for housing, but development has not kept pace. Essentially, we are bringing more workers to the state without providing them a place to live.

Learn more and read the full analysis from KHC here.

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