Housing Needs Assessment identifies more than $3.5 billion gap in affordable housing

The report identified possible policy changes to help increase affordable housing and avoid involuntary displacement. | Courtesy of Housing Needs Assessment

The city Thursday released a report that gives a broad picture of the state of housing in Louisville.

The Housing Needs Assessment is extensive in its scope, looking at the number of rentals and single-family homes, eviction rates, the risk of involuntary displacement, incomes, ethnicities, and home and rental prices, but more importantly, it puts a number on the gap in housing affordable to families earning less than $71,500 a year, the area median income, and identifies possible policy and funding solutions.

Louisville Metro Government’s Office of Housing and Community Development and the Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund commissioned Pittsburgh-based Mullin & Lonergan Associates to complete the assessment. The cost was about $100,000.

“We have a lot of work today, but if we keep working away at it and scratching it, we will be able to see a significant impact in the future,” Christie McCravy, executive director of the Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund, said about the assessment’s findings.

The trust fund and city will host two meetings next week to go over the Housing Needs Assessment. The first is Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 6 p.m. at Memorial Auditorium. That is followed on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 9:30 a.m. at the Bon Air Library.

Given the comprehensive nature of the report, Insider pulled out a few key findings. Residents also can comment on the report through March 20.

Courtesy of Housing Needs Assessment

  1. Louisville is 31,412 units (apartments, houses or other living quarters) short of being able to house all households earning at or below 30 percent of the area median income (AMI), or $25,100 a year. The cost to fill that gap in affordable housing is more than $3.5 billion.
  2. Just more than 66 percent of Louisville households earn at or below 100 percent of AMI, which is $71,500 a year. There is an unmet need for 61,157 total units for those households at 100 percent of AMI or lower, while there is a more than 6,800 unit surplus of housing for those earning above 100 percent of AMI.
  3. The majority of subsidized affordable housing is located in four market areas: Downtown, University (Old Louisville, Shelby Park, Fairgrounds), Northwest Core (Portland, Russell, Shawnee) and West Core (the remaining west Louisville neighborhoods). Roughly one-eighth of the 16,441 subsidized units will lose their affordability restriction, which will dictate what price they are rented out at, in the next five years.
  4. Where subsidized affordable housing is located mirrors other demographic information and data. Those four market areas tend to include more low-income and minority residents, and residents are less likely to have a college degree. The market areas have high rates of evictions, concentrations of homes in poor condition and high unemployment.
  5. Twenty-nine percent of households in Louisville are cost burdened, meaning more than 30 percent of their income pays for housing expenses and they may have trouble paying necessities like food, transportation and child care.

The report and affordable housing advocates have said that if the city focuses its efforts on providing more affordable housing to those at the lowest end of the income spectrum, at or below 30 percent of AMI, then it will create a “cascading effect” that will open up more affordable housing options for those in higher income brackets.

The Housing Needs Assessment also identifies some ways that the city and other organizations can add to the amount of affordable housing and prevent those currently living affordably from being displaced by gentrification, a risk in neighborhoods like Russell and Smoketown. Solutions include:

  • Designating a dedicated funding source for affordable housing initiatives like the Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund
  • Create a Renter Equity Program to allow renters to build equity while renting
  • Start a Community Land Trust to spur new affordable homeownership
  • Prioritize specific areas for affordable and market-rate housing
  • Adopt anti-displacement policies
  • Consider implementing inclusionary zoning regulations
  • Expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program (would require state law change)
  • Freeze property taxes for at-risk homeowners (would require state law change)
  • Exclusionary taxing for developers who create affordable units within market-rate projects (would require state law change)
  • Reducing parking requirements for affordable housing developments
  • Adopt a proactive code enforcement program for rentals

Correction: This post has been updated to correct the dates for the two public meetings.