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Takeaways From the 2014 Louisville Metro Housing Report

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The latest report on housing in Louisville is evidence of how old policies can have a lasting effect on a community.

The 2014 Metropolitan Housing Report released Thursday shows housing segregation based on class and race, disproportionate placement of public housing, foreclosures and homelessness continue to plague the Louisville area.

Cathy Hinko, the director of the Metropolitan Housing Coalition, said the current state of housing did not come by accident.

The 2014 report, which you can read below, contains few surprises.

“The most surprising part is how we pretend it isn’t deliberate, that it just happens or it’s just history,” Hinko said. “That history has a basis of intent and we have supported that intent into the future and it is through our policy and our laws that we get the result that we have.”

She said Louisville may no longer intend to act on policies that promote housing inequality, but the city is left with the results from a previous era that had done just that.

She said change can come, but it won’t come easy.

Hinko calls for zoning policy changes that would allow multi-family structures to be developed in areas of the county that currently have zero public housing units, and an Affordable Housing Trust Fund to assist poorer residents pay for and find housing.

Here is a closer look at some of the significant findings of the 2014 report:

Concentration of Subsidized Housing

An overwhelming majority (87 percent) of public housing units in Jefferson County can be found in four of the 26 Metro Council districts—1, 3, 4, 6, which cover downtown and parts of west Louisville, the report said.  The heaviest concentration of these units are located in District 4 (27 percent) and District 6 (14 percent).

In contrast, Districts8, 12, 13, 14, 16 and 20have no public housing units, per the report.


More than 3,300 people are on a waiting list for public housing in Louisville.

Hinko said this disproportionality in low-income housing is the result of “laws and legal barriers that allow or prevent types of people from living in certain areas.”

“This isn’t just happening,” she said.  “It’s happening because it’s designed this way.”

Section 8 housing units make up the majority (77 percent) of subsidized housing in Jefferson County, according to the report.

Every Metro Council district has Section 8 units, but the majority of those Section 8 units are located in a group of six Metro Council districts located west of I-65 and north of the Watterson Expressway.

Here is a map of all Section 8 housing units in Jefferson County. There are currently more than 17,000 applicants on a waiting list for a Section 8 voucher.

Low-Income Housing Tax Credits are also prevalent in the westernmost areas of Jefferson County. These tax credits are incentives for developers of affordable housing units for low-income residents.

Here is a map of where Low-Income Housing Tax Credit structures are located.

Housing Segregation

Louisville has stark segregation by race, poverty and household type, Hink0 said.

But policymakers need to "gently" introduce ways of diversifying the housing market in Louisville, she said.

“It is not good to scare people and say we are changing everything about your current neighborhood, we are not about that,” she said.

Here are maps that show just how segregated some groups are in the Louisville housing market.

Homeownership

The 2008 recession was a blow to homeownership rates in Jefferson County, Hinko said. But that rate is beginning to climb.

In 2013, the homeownership rate in Louisville was the highest since 2009 at 64.5 percent. Despite this, racial disparities still exist regarding homeownership.  In Jefferson County, African American residents make up 12 percent of owner-occupied households.

Here is a look at Louisville Metro homeownership rate in the past decade.

Foreclosures

Jefferson County is the only county in the Census-designated metropolitan statistical area to see an increase in residential foreclosures (8 percent) from 2012 to 2013, the report said.  Shelby County had the largest decrease (51 percent).

The foreclosure rate in Jefferson County has increased 69 percent since 2005, according to the report.  But local officials have tried to combat the related issue of vacant or abandoned housing with VAPStat, an online inventory of vacant properties. VAPStat also provides residents with information about programs and resources to prevent properties from being foreclosed upon.

Here is a chart of foreclosures that have been started in Kentucky and Indiana counties within the Louisville MSA:

Homelessness

As WFPL has previously reported, the number of homeless residents is slowly decreasing among veterans and chronically homeless individuals.  But the number of homeless families has remained constant.

This is evident when the number of homeless children is considered, Hinko said.

Jefferson County Public Schools have reported a “sharp decrease” in the number of homeless students compared to previous years, according to the report—which can be attributed to a change in the way homeless students are identified.

It is estimated that there are more than 13,000 homeless students in Jefferson County, or about 14 percent of the entire student population, Hinko said.

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“We know children are bearing the brunt of our housing instability,” she said.  “That is horrible.”

Here's the full report:

Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.