Economy

Louisville needs more than 31,000 units that would be affordable to the city’s lowest-income households, according to a third-party report that will be released Thursday.

City-commissioned consultants examined the available housing in Louisville and found that there is more than enough for the highest-earners. But less than half of those in the lowest socio-economic bracket have housing options that they can afford.

Development of the needed affordable units could cost more than $3.5 billion, the report’s authors said. The city already puts money into such projects through the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which gives loans to developers big and small. In the past four years, Louisville Metro has put $41 million into the fund.

Christie McCravey, executive director of the Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund, said her agency will use the report’s findings to direct future work.

“What we’re looking at is where is the current housing affordable, where is housing subsidized already, how can we basically make equitable housing choice throughout our entire community?” she said.

The report, compiled by Pittsburgh consulting firm Mullin & Lonergan Associates, outlined local and state-level proposals it said could be implemented to promote and fund affordable housing development. It looked to cities such as Cincinnati and St. Louis for ideas.

Creating a Community Land Trust, allowing renters to build equity and reducing parking requirements for affordable develops are some of the local suggestions listed in an executive summary released ahead of the report. At the state level, the consultants recommended measures such as expanding the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program and freezing real estate property taxes for at-risk homeowners.

Louisville Metro officials will spend the next few months assessing the strategies, the executive summary said. They are soliciting public feedback online through March 20.

But McCravey, of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, said she didn’t know the timeline for implementing the chosen strategies.

Plus, as Louisville faces down an impending budget shortfall related to rising pension and health care costs, many city programs could be at risk of cuts. That raises the question of whether the city can afford to dedicate more resources to addressing the affordable housing shortage.

“One of the things that concerns me is that the study does show that there’s great need in the community and facing a shortfall like this may have a definite impact on funding in order to create the units that are needed to actually provide solutions,” McCravey said.

The Office of Housing & Community Development and Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund will hold two public meetings next week to discuss the Housing Needs Assessment. The first will be on Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. at Memorial Auditorium (970 S. Fourth Street), and the second will be Feb. 27 at 9:30 a.m. at the Bon Air Library (2816 Del Rio Place).

Amina Elahi is WFPL's City Reporter.