Community

An ordinance that affordable housing advocates consider a big step forward in Louisville’s quest to boost living options for low-income residents is being held up in a Metro Council ad hoc committee.

The five member, bipartisan committee addressed the ordinance Monday, but tabled it until an Aug. 10 meeting after nearly an hour of discussion.

The ordinance would provide incentives to developers who build mixed-income housing in Louisville. Developers would be granted points depending on the development’s ratio of housing that was affordable to low-income residents. More points mean the developers could exceed density limits, which means more units and, ultimately, more return on their investment, said Cathy Hinko, director of the Metropolitan Housing Coalition.

“This is a big thing,” Hinko said.

She said the mixed residential development incentives would help developers create more opportunities for low-income residents to live in areas of the county that may provide more access to jobs and healthy living.

The developments would include both single and multi-family units in areas zoned R-4 and R-5, Hinko said. At least 10 perent of the units must be multi-family and at least 5 percent of those must be affordable, meaning rent levels do not exceed Low Income Housing Tax Credit maximum rent—or they’re affordable to people earning less than 60 percent of the median income of the metro area, Hinko said.

Metro Council member Bill Hollander, a Democrat who sits on the ad hoc committee, said the issue of affordable housing is “an economic development issue, a transportation issue.”

The ordinance, he said, “is a way to get people out of concentrated pockets of poverty.”

Councilman James Peden, a Republican and the committee chair, said while he’s been an “anti guy” regarding the ordinance, he believes there are ways to make improvements to the ordinance.

He questioned city officials on details of the ordinance, like how points are earned and if affordability requirements will remain if the property is sold.

Peden also pointed to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that people affected by discriminatory housing practices can sue even if the bias wasn’t intended as reason to proceed with the ordinance.

“I just think we need to do whatever we can to head in that direction to have (affordable housing) available to all folks,” he said.

The ad hoc committee did pass two other ordinances aimed at making it easier to establish affordable housing in Louisville.

One ordinance eliminates the need for a conditional use permit to construct multi-family housing in areas zoned for office buildings. The other ordinance allows attachments to be built on dwellings in certain areas zoned R-5 with the aim of boosting density and providing more options for low-income residents.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.