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Affordable Housing Incentives Get Council Committee Approval. Here's What They Would Do

A plan to incorporate more affordable housing throughout Jefferson County is on its way to the full Metro Council for consideration.

The Ad Hoc Committee on the Land Development Code on Monday approved an ordinance to provide incentives for developers who build mixed-income housing in Louisville.

The full council is scheduled to debate the proposal on Thursday.

The incentives aim to encourage developers to build a mixture of housing types at varying price points, according to a report from a 44-member group tasked with examining the city's current housing policies.

The mixed-residential development incentive would allow multi-family residential developments to be built in areas zoned specifically for single-family dwellings without a zoning change, according to the report.

For developers to get the incentive, at least 10 percent of a development's units would need to be multi-family, and at least 5 percent of those would need to be affordable. That means rent levels could not exceed the Low Income Housing Tax Credit maximum — in other words, they’re affordable to people earning less than 60 percent of the median income of the metro area, said Cathy Hinko, director of the Metropolitan Housing Commission.

Developers seeking the incentive could also exceed density limits within their developments under the proposal. That means means more residents and, ultimately, more return on their investment, Hinko said.

The mixed-residential development incentive is one of three major concepts the fair and affordable housing subcommittee included in its final report.

"It's a pretty significant measure," Hinko said of the ordinance.

Moving the ordinance through the committee, though, has been an arduous process.

Councilman James Peden, a District 23 Republican, attempted to introduce amendments that would have placed limits on how close the developments could be to each other.

But 9th District Councilman Bill Hollander and 5th District Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton, both Democrats, said the limitations introduced by Peden and supported by Brent Ackerson, a District 26 Democrat, were "exclusionary" and would have reduced the number of new affordable housing developments in the county.

Hinko said the limitations would have violated federal fair housing laws.

One change to the initial ordinance, adding some element of dispersion, was included in the final measure, Hinko said.

"So that it isn't all the affordable units are in one place or all the multi-family is in one place," she said. "It doesn't limit how many of the developments can happen, but it helps with the design within the development."

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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