Activist organization renews call to fund Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund

CLOUT collected more than 1,000 cards urging the mayor to invest in the Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

CLOUT collected more than 1,000 cards urging the mayor to invest in the Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

The Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund’s new executive director Christie McCravy took to the steps of city hall this morning with Metro Councilman Bill Hollander (D-9) and members of CLOUT (Citizens of Louisville Organized and United Together) to once again ask Mayor Greg Fischer to allocate money toward the trust fund.

The group presented more than 1,000 cards asking Fischer to move $5 million from the general fund into the trust fund to help the estimated 60,000 households in need of more affordable housing.

“If Louisville truly wants to be recognized as the compassionate city that we speak about, then housing for all needs to be a priority,” McCravy said during a press conference Tuesday.

CLOUT, a faith-based organization with thousands of members across Louisville, has made the funding of LAHTF a top priority.

“Make our people a higher priority than pavement and sidewalks,” CLOUT co-president Beverly Duncan said during Tuesday’s press conference.

Louisville had a nearly $10 million surplus, half of which went to paving roadways and fixing sidewalks, according to Insider Louisville’s media partner WLKY. No funding went to affordable housing.

Hollander said his fellow council members support funding the creation of affordable housing, but they haven’t agreed on how to pay for it. At one point, a 1 percent increase in the insurance premium tax was recommended, but there was not enough support to pass it in Metro Council. The increase would have raise $10.15 million annually.

“We have looked for other ways to try and fund it,” Hollander said. “The general fund is a way.”

The LAHTF has received $1.5 million in funding since its inception in 2008.

Similar to LAHTF, Nashville has the Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing, which it created in 2013. It was started with $2 million in federal urban development action grant monies, which it was able to leverage for another $2.5 million in federal and private funds.

The Barnes Fund also is expected to receive $5 million from the sale of the city’s former convention center this summer, and Nashville Mayor Megan Barry has included $10 million in funding for the Barnes Fund in her operating budget for next fiscal year.

Lexington also created an affordable housing trust fund in 2014 using $3.5 million in surplus funds.

“We know that trust funds work. They are flexible,” Hollander said. “We have seen our competitor cities and cities we aspire to be like do a much better job on affordable housing.”

In a emailed comment, Fischer’s spokesman Chris Poynter noted that the city invested $12 million in the Louisville CARES initiative, the largest investment in affordable housing in years.

“The Mayor is currently putting together his budget for the new fiscal year, which starts July 1, and will take the suggestions and ideas delivered today under consideration,” Poynter stated.

However, Hollander said the efforts aren’t enough.

“Louisville CARES is a great program, but that was last year’s program,” he said. “We need an ongoing commitment.”