Louisville Doesn’t Do Good Enough Job Tracking Vacant Properties, Report Says

The Metropolitan Housing Coalition will release its annual housing report Thursday, the same day Network Center for Community Change—or NC3—will hold a public meeting in Smoketown, addressing a key criticism of vacant property highlighted in the report.

For the past few months, residents and NC3 volunteers have been walking the Smoketown neighborhood and taking notes on vacant properties. The group similarly mapped the Shawnee neighborhood earlier this year.

The mapping project, said NC3’s Pam Newman, provides a more accurate depiction of Smoketown’s vacant properties, partly because Metro Government doesn’t have a good tracking system in place.

“If somebody just walks away from a property, there’s not necessarily a button that gets pushed that says, oh, this property is vacant now,” she said.

That’s why NC3 has found over 400 vacant property, but only 70 are recognized by city data.

The disparity is partly because the definition of vacant property varies, which is pointed out in MHC’s housing report.

The report further says Louisville does not have a coordinated system for identifying and tracking local vacant property data and it recommends Metro Government develop a better system with the help of various agencies and organizations like NC3.

However, the group’s count of vacant property in Smoketown and Shawnee is not without reason and it likely paints an accurate vacant property picture, said Curtis Stauffer, development director for MHC.

For Newman and some Smoketown residents the maps verify what many have assumed, she said.

“The map is more of a tool than anything else, to be able to say, look, here on paper, here’s active live data recently collected that shows exactly what we’ve been saying for years.”

NC3 will hold its meeting at 5:30 pm at the Presbyterian Community Center and MHC will release its report at noon.

Highlights of the NC3 report include:

  • Overall, Smoketown has a 31 percent vacancy rate
  • 21 percent of residential housing stock is currently vacant
  • There are over 200 vacant lots (different from properties) in the neighborhood
  • There are 434 occupied residential properties in Smoketown, 39 percent of those are owner-occupied
  • There are 49 unoccupied commercial properties in Smoketown

Devin Katayama

Devin Katayama host middays for WFPL and reports on education and other Louisville issues.

@DevinWFPL

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