Protestors claim 'lab rat' status at Louisville housing meeting - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Protestors claim 'lab rat' status at Louisville housing meeting

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Demonstrators showed up to a Louisville Metro Housing Authority meeting bound and gagged. (Source: Greg Schapker/WAVE 3 News) Demonstrators showed up to a Louisville Metro Housing Authority meeting bound and gagged. (Source: Greg Schapker/WAVE 3 News)
he Housing Authority’s board members are considering whether to join a study that would encourage tenants to get jobs by not raising their rent if they find work. (Source: Greg Schapker/WAVE 3 News) he Housing Authority’s board members are considering whether to join a study that would encourage tenants to get jobs by not raising their rent if they find work. (Source: Greg Schapker/WAVE 3 News)
This is a shot of the July 15 Louisville Metro Housing Authority meeting. (Source: Greg Schapker/WAVE 3 News) This is a shot of the July 15 Louisville Metro Housing Authority meeting. (Source: Greg Schapker/WAVE 3 News)
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Demonstrators showed up to a Louisville Metro Housing Authority meeting Tuesday bound and gagged, even though the policy they were demonstrating against was already on hold.

The Housing Authority’s board members are considering whether to join a study that would set a $75 a month minimum rent on public housing tenants, but it would also encourage tenants to get jobs by not raising their rent if they find work.

Board members earlier on Tuesday had delayed a decision on joining the study, which demonstrators called “sexist” and “racist” because it affects primarily single, black mothers and their children.

“We don’t go home to public housing, or multi-family buildings or whatever you call them,” Chanelle Helm, who opposes the study, told board members. “We go home, just like you all go home.”

Louisville is one of four cities – including Lexington – that are considering joining the study. Its organizers aim to provide evidence for an effective way to change nationwide rent practices.

The study doesn’t require public housing tenants to work, and if they can’t afford the $75 a month payment, they can apply for a waiver, said Jim Riccio, a New York-based policy researcher who was in Louisville advocating for the study.

The new policy would hold rents steady for three years, instead of raising them for tenants who find work, Riccio said.

“Some tenants view that as discouraging or penalizing,” he said. “What this intends to do is remove that penalty for working.”

Tim Barry, executive director of the Metro Housing Authority, said he wouldn’t ask the board to vote on joining the study until early fall.

Until then, board members remain open to hearing public concerns, board chairman Manfred Reid said.

“[Tenants] will know what they’re going into, they’ll know how it’s going to come out, and they’ll know what data will be presented on their behalf,” he said.

About 1,000 of Louisville’s public housing tenants would be forced to participate in the study, but they could opt out of having their data collected at the end, Riccio said.

Protesters accused the study’s supporters of wanting to put poor people through a social experiment.

“History has taught us not to trust you,” one woman told the board.

“If only four cities are doing it, Louisville doesn’t have to sign up for everything,” said another. “This is not a good thing.”

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