It’s all official. This morning at the Presbyterian Community Center, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth (KY-3) and Mayor Greg Fischer joined the Louisville Metro Housing Authority in kicking off the redevelopment of Sheppard Square in Smoketown.
The $101 million redevelopment of the historic, 70-year-old Sheppard Square public housing complex marks Louisville’s third and final HOPE VI project. The program will use $22 million in federal funds, as well as a mix of private dollars, city money and low-income housing tax credits.
Yarmuth stated this is “truly an exciting day for the community,” adding that during his time in Smoketown, residents have shown passion and a commitment to improving the neighborhood. He said the HOPE VI project — which will create 454 mixed-income homes and apartments — will bring economic opportunity to the area.
“I’m thrilled with what it means for the future of this community,” he said.
Also speaking this morning: Councilman David Tandy and Mayor Greg Fischer, who stated HOPE VI is a “great example of government helping people.”
As part of this project, the old Presbyterian Community Center (known largely for its ties to Muhammad Ali’s boxing days) will be renovated and expanded into “community space and housing targeted for elderly and disabled veterans.”
Government officials touted Sheppard Square’s redevelopment for its commitment to being “green.” According to LMHA, 75 percent of demolition material was diverted from the landfill. Also, Energy Star appliances will be installed in the new units and vegetation will be strategically planted to help conserve energy.
The morning’s celebratory press event was capped with a ribbon-tying ceremony, an indoor take on ribbon cutting … we think. Officials tied red ribbons to young, potted trees that will eventually be replanted at Sheppard Square.
As LEO previously reported, affordable housing advocates have some concerns with the HOPE VI projects undertaken in Louisville: Park DuValle, Clarksdale and now Sheppard Square.
Partly due to these mixed-income projects, about 1,000 units in low-income public housing have been lost over the last decade. Also, as federal dollars for affordable housing dwindles, advocates worry that too much is being spent on mixed-income developments rather than housing that can serve the very poor, particularly poor families. Currently there are 21,000 people on LMHA’s waiting list for subsidized housing.
Congressman Yarmuth tells LEO, “I think it’s a valid point. But ultimately I think the policy decsion that has been made, and I agree with it, is that if you just do exclusively low-income housing you really cement in cycles of poverty that you really can’t reverse.”