LOUISVILLE – With a pledge to begin tackling Louisville’s affordable housing crisis, Mayor Greg Fischer today proposed a $12 million initiative called Louisville Creating Affordable Residences for Economic Success, or Louisville CARES, which would create 1,500 housing units over two years, construction jobs throughout the community and security and stability for many Louisville families.
“Having decent, safe and affordable housing is the most basic need for families,” Fischer said. “Yet, in Louisville, that home is out of reach for too many of our families, too many of our citizens and too many of our children. Louisville CARES is a down payment on a long term plan to address that challenge.”
Fischer noted that 60,000 households in Louisville are in need of housing because they are currently spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Of those, 24,000 are spending more than 50 percent on housing. The Mayor cited other data the shows the deep need:
• 21,000 households are on a waiting list for housing assistance, and 1,700 households lack complete kitchen or complete plumbing;
• On any given night, 1,200 residents are homeless; annually, 8,600 residents experience homelessness;
• In the 2013-14 school year, over 6,800 JCPS students experienced severe housing instability, meaning they shared others’ housing, including relatives and friends due to a loss of housing, economic hardships or related reasons.
“We cannot create the quality workforce that businesses require if our workers don’t have a stable home in which to raise their family,” Fischer said. “And, we cannot expect our children to be alert, productive, successful students if they end each school day not knowing where their bed will be that night, and wake each morning in a crowded confusing space they can’t call their own.”
Metro Council President David Tandy applauded the new initiative.
“This funding source is a good start, the discussion and goal of providing affordable housing for our working families will continue to be a top priority for the Council,” he said. “As President, I will continue to work with the Mayor, the Affordable Housing Trust and community advocates to address the future housing needs of our city.”
Louisville CARES is part of Mayor Fischer’s 2016-17 fiscal year budget proposal to be presented on May 28. The program will build affordable housing in Louisville and specifically help families who are paying more than 50 percent of their income on rent. Details of the program include:
• The initiative includes a $10-11 million revolving loan pool that non-profit and for-profit developers can tap to help build multi-family housing across the city. In addition, the city will set aside $1 million to buy land for construction of housing near major employment centers, so that people can live near where they work.
• Over two years, the funding is expected to create 750 new units of affordable housing, opening up an additional 750 units to other families as people move into that new housing.
• The loan pool will be administered by Develop Louisville’s Office of Housing and Community Development, with support and strategic direction from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which will help write parameters for the loans and review applications. Loans will be available on a competitive basis with low interest rates and they must be paid back to ensure the fund continues to operate.
• Funds for this initiative come from a proposed dedication of $1.3 million in general fund revenues, as well as a proposed $10-11 million bond to be paid off over 30 years.
This proposal has an additional benefit —the creation of jobs for those in the homebuilding industry, including construction jobs and for plumbers, electricians, drywallers and masons.
Mayor Fischer has partnered with members of the Louisville Metro Council on this proposal, many of whom support for the initiative.
“Working families across Louisville have an enormous need for affordable housing,” Councilman Bill Hollander said. “While we still have a lot of work to do to make sure every Louisvillian has a safe and decent place to call home, this is more than we have ever done before and represents a very important step in the right direction.”
Cathy Hinko, executive director of Metropolitan Housing Coalition, lauded the new program.
“People work hard and their wages do not support having a stable modest, safe place to lay their heads every night,” she said. “We need to do this for our children, our workers and people on fixed incomes.”
“Working to ensure that every family has a place to call their home is an issue on which Louisville has shown progressive and historic leadership,” Fischer added. “We need to build on our great legacy, and build the homes that our families and children need and deserve.”