BUILD

Building a United Interfaith Lexington through Direct-Action

Background

Building a United Interfaith Lexington through Direct-Action (BUILD) is an organization of religious congregations in Lexington-Fayette County, Kentucky. Since its inception in 2003, BUILD has been constituent led and employs the practices of direct action community organizing. BUILD is developing a powerful grassroots organization, made up of congregations situated in low to moderate income communities that are capable of creating system-wide change.

Impact

BUILD has made a real difference on a number of community problems:

Affordable Housing
In 2014, BUILD got Mayor Gray and the Urban County Council to unanimously create an affordable housing fund to build and renovate affordable housing in Lexington, with $2 million of ongoing, annual funding. As of July 2020, $141 million has been leveraged to create 1,700 units of affordable housing.

Mental Healthcare
In 2017 and 2018, BUILD won continued funding for Mental Health Court so that people with severe mental illness who commit minor, nonviolent crimes get treatment, not jail. Because of BUILD, this program went from being a pilot program funded by short term grants to instead be included in the city’s budget.

Drugs and Crime
BUILD won a Restorative Justice Program for youth who are using drugs and alcohol in our Family Court System. Three Family Court Judges, the Police Chief, the school system, the principal of our alternative school, and the Division of Youth Services were at our Nehemiah Action to commit to make this happen in Lexington. Over 100 youth per year go through this program, avoiding jail time.

BUILD discovered in 2006 that there was no drug treatment program for women in the Fayette County Jail, while the program for men was reducing the recidivism rate from 60% to 19%. BUILD got then-Mayor Teresa Isaac to put $175,000 in the budget for a women’s drug treatment program at the Fayette County Jail. We have followed up each year since then to ensure that the program remains funded.

In 2014, BUILD won top-notch drug court training for judges and attorneys so that everyone eligible has access to this program and the hope of recovery from their addiction.

Healthcare for the Uninsured
Due to the work of BUILD the Fayette County Health Department and other providers have supplied primary care to over 14,000 of Lexington’s over 40,000 uninsured adults. In 2011 alone, nearly $8 million of healthcare was provided to the uninsured in Lexington as a direct result of BUILD’s efforts.

Code Enforcement
Due to BUILD’s taking action in 2007, the Code Enforcement Division agreed to step up its inspections of trailer parks in Fayette county, some of which had rotting floor, leaking roofs, and open sewage.

Public Transportation
BUILD got LexTran to start an “Employment Bus” which will take citizens to work during the hours the regular bus is not in service – this service began in August 2006.

Recidivism Reduction
In 2012, BUILD gained a commitment from Mayor Gray to promote hiring policies that help reduce recidivism by getting people with a criminal history back to work. He agreed to bring together his staff and local employers to meet with a national expert to deepen their understanding of fair, effective hiring practices.

Ex-Offender Re-entry
BUILD got the circuit court clerk and head of the detention center to develop a plan to ensure inmates have state issued photo ID’s upon their release.

BUILD has followed up over the years to make sure that all of these commitments are met.

Read more about BUILD in the news.

Current Membership

Presently, 26 congregations with over 15,000 individual members are members of BUILD. We come from all parts of Fayette County, and we represent a diverse mix of persons by race, economic class, and religious traditions.

Contact Us

P.O. Box 21874
Lexington, KY 40522

(859) 367-0152

buildlex@gmail.com

Lead Organizer: Jennifer Ruglio

Associate Organizer: Matt Huffman

Associate Organizer: Mary Kate Norton