Homeowners in two West Louisville neighborhoods are fed up with the influx of transitional housing and are seeking to ban such units in their part of the city for at least a year.
Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton, D-5, is sponsoring the ordinance, which would impose a 12-month moratorium on granting any permits for the construction or establishment of such units in the Shawnee and Chickasaw neighborhoods.
Under the city’s land code, transitional housing is defined as a temporary residential living arrangement for “persons participating in a program that provides supportive services” such as counseling, education, or job training.
The city code says such units are setup “to help persons achieve personal independence,” but neighborhood leaders are concerned with their proliferation.
“Residents feel some form of action needs to be done to put an immediate stop on these developments,” says Chickasaw Federation President Donovan Taylor. “Many have made investments to live in this particular area and want to maintain that investment. And residents feel these housing units may have a negative impact on their home investment as well as their quality of life.”
The ban would also include boarding houses, lodging apartments, and halfway shelters. It bars any zoning change, exception, or conditional use permits in those two neighborhoods while a study on zoning laws is conducted.
Hamilton said in many cases these units are popping up with little oversight by the city’s Inspections, Permits and Licensing department, and residents want to insure it’s being run properly.
“If you look at what’s going on in the Shawnee and Chickasaw neighborhoods we have a lot of huge homes built when people had families that were nine and ten members,” she said. “We don’t have that anymore so a lot of these structures people want to convert them into something they weren’t original intended or zones for. Some of them are operating illegally. They’re operating as houses with rooms for rent.”
Among the West End’s nine neighborhoods, Shawnee and Chickasaw are considered more affluent compared to the California or Parkland areas.
Taylor acknowledged brewing criticisms that this move could backfire as west Louisville’s middle-class homeowners trying keep poorer residents out.
But proponents of the measure have reached out to affordable housing advocates, and argue this is about the upkeep of the area and doing things by the book.
“This moratorium will allow us to not just say, ‘not in my backyard,’ because that’s not what this is about,” said Hamilton. “We want affordable housing and we are very welcoming to people who are transitioning back from being incarcerated or whatever. Everybody deserves a decent, safe, and sanitary place to live.”
The ordinance will receive its first reading this week in the council. It will be assigned to the Planning, Zoning and Land Design and Development Committee.