New ordinance aims to protect historic Black neighborhoods

For the last two years, residents in multiple black neighborhoods have worked together for a policy for better housing conditions.
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 7:12 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - For the last two years, residents in multiple black neighborhoods have worked together for a policy for better housing conditions.

On Wednesday, residents, business owners and policymakers held a press conference about the Historic Black Neighborhoods Ordinance. It would stop developers from coming in and increase the cost of living.

In 2016, Louisville launched the Vision Russell development project, and then in 2018, the Russell Place of Promise development initiative began.

The intention of these initiatives was positive but the assets and resources to build market-rate development in the Russell neighborhood have been bleak.

“After Smoketown lost hundreds of residents due to remodeling of Shepherd’s Square, both non-profit and for-profit organizations started inflating the cost of living in Smoketown,” Jessica Bellamy with Louisville Tenant Union said.

According to the US Census, between 2010 and 2020 the Russell Neighborhood lost about 2,450 Black residents while its white population rapidly increased.

A 2016 study found that a $100 increase in median rent is associated with a 15% increase in homelessness in urban areas.

“These issues are less about the lines that separate us and more that unite us which is everyone wants affordable housing,” Director of Vocal Louisville Shameka Parrish Wright said.

Parrish-Wright said the housing crisis and the ordinance humanize what happening on the streets of Louisville.

During the press conference, many people talked about being unable to afford rent, finding housing options and what it’s like being homeless.

The lack of housing options in Louisville is a growing issue. In 2019, Louisville Metro conducted a study that shows displacement rates are higher in neighborhoods like Russell and Smoketown.

The Historic Black Neighborhoods Ordinance would change that. It would also work with Louisville’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

According to that plan, Metro is committed to “ensuring the long-term affordability and livable options in all neighborhoods.”

Metro Councilman Jecorey Arthur said this ordinance answers problems the city knows are present.

“People in the executive branch have been well aware of the issue,” Councilman Jecorey Arthur said. “The people who have lived experiences are well aware of the issue. It seems straightforward and a no-brainer that council people would support something they already admitted to before I joined Metro Council.”

The ordinance is gaining a lot of popularity across the city, with petition signers representing over half of the 26 council districts in Jefferson County.

For more information about the Historic Black Neighborhood Ordinance, click or tap here.