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Louisville Habitat, Google Fiber Partner To Build A House In Portland

Louisville’s Habitat for Humanity found a wealthy donor in Google Fiber.

The tech company donated $45,000 to the nonprofit to build a house in Louisville's Portland neighborhood, where Habitat has built or renovated nearly a hundred homes.

Habitat CEO Rob Locke said donations and fundraisers normally support Habitat’s housing projects. Google Fiber, Locke said, would be a welcome addition to the West End. He said Louisville has underinvested in the west for years.

“It’s not difficult to walk through Portland, Russell, California and see that there are sidewalks that are deteriorated, that there’s real infrastructure -- when you think about roads and things that are the foundational part of the neighborhood -- that they’re in disrepair,” Locke said.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that infrastructure, small business, are crucial parts to that puzzle as well to help people in neighborhoods grow into all that God intends.”

Habitat chooses recipients through an application and vetting process. That process mandates an applicant earn between 30 and 80 percent of the area’s median income, show a need for improved housing, commit 400 volunteer hours and show they can repay the home’s mortgage. Habitat is currently building in neighborhoods such as Shelby Park, Iroquois and Smoketown.

City officialsannounced in June that Portland would be the first Louisville neighborhood to get Google Fiber. After contentious debate, Metro Council opted to fully fund Mayor Greg Fischer’s $5.4 million proposalto build out a fiber internet network across Jefferson County — beginning with a stretch in West Louisville.

Some residents and council members questioned funding for the project and whether it will help the Portland neighborhood. So far, work to bury cables has reportedly started in the Highlands, Portland and Newburg neighborhoods.

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.