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On Thursday, the Metropolitan Housing Coalition (MHC) released its 2014 State of Metropolitan Housing report. Since 1989 MHC has been at the forefront of advocacy, research, and education around the issue of fair and affordable housing in Louisville—an often difficult issue, given the relatively low cost of housing in the city and its outlying communities. Since 2003, MHC has released a State of Metropolitan Housing report, as well as advocated at the local and state level around urban issues as varied, and as equally entangled, as housing affordability, public housing, transportation, homelessness, air quality, and land use policy.

(Courtesy MHC)
(Courtesy MHC)

This year’s report is no different, as far as the value of its depth and breadth of content. In the 2014 report, MHC spoke to Louisville’s accomplishments such as the adoption of a nationally recognized 20-Year Action Plan to Further Fair Housing, the ongoing revision to the Land Development Code (which experienced unexpectedly high community participation), and the creation of a Community Development Financial Institution alongside their partners at Jewish Family & Career Services.

(Courtesy MHC)
(Courtesy MHC)

The major findings of the report are:

  • A majority of Louisville’s public housing—87 percent—is located in just four of its metro council districts: 1, 3, 4, and 6.
  • Louisville/Jefferson County lost 71 public housing units between 2013 and 2014, bringing the total number of units to 4,093. Meanwhile there are currently 3,320 applicants on LMHA’s wait list for public housing units, and 17,746 waiting for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers.
  • The city’s Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two bedroom rental unit dropped from $731 to $705 from 2013 to 2014. Unfortunately, the mean hourly wage for renters continues to be insufficient to afford even this lower amount.
  • Homeownership increased in Louisville Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) for a second year in a row to 64.5 percent but remains well below the 2003 level of 70.3 percent.
  • The rate of foreclosure decreased in all Kentucky counties of the Louisville MSA except Jefferson, which saw an 8 percent increase in foreclosures.
(Courtesy MHC)
(Courtesy MHC)

This year, the report’s theme was crafted around our city’s progress as measured by previous years recommendations by MHC to the Louisville Metro Government. It focuses on issues such as planning-zoning, transportation, utilities, environmental quality, and vacant properties. For the most part, the city has seen some gain in each of these issues according to the report.

Some of the highlights we at Broken Sidewalk noticed were an increase in organized citizen participation around the Land Development Code through engagement with the Fair & Affordable Housing sub-committee. This participation led to new zoning code recommendations that would incentivize affordable housing options.

(Courtesy MHC)
(Courtesy MHC)

MHC has simultaneously been working alongside the Kentuckiana Regional Planning & Development Agency (KIPDA) to convince them to make its meetings more open and accessible to the public. The report suggests that there is some movement on that front.

MHC also organized heavy involvement around the MOVE Louisville input meetings.

TARC continues to improve service to its most significant routes. The routes affected service up to 50 percent of its daily capacity.

(Courtesy MHC)
(Courtesy MHC)

Local government was commended for its continued commitment to the issue of brownfields, green space development, and the Louisville Environmental & Property Search, which “provides publicly-reported environmental data on vacant properties and properties owned or controlled by Louisville Metro, including those that are for sale.”

Finally, there has been some significant attempts at addressing vacant properties in the city. Through MHC’s Louisville Vacant Properties Campaign, a forum of residents and community organizations, there has been an increase in education as well as action in addressing issues of vacancy and disuse. The Lots of Possibility contest and ReSurfaced in 2014 also proved that citizens were ready to address the issue of vacant properties at a more grassroots level.

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Drew Tucker

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