Metro Council budget passed, focuses on disadvantaged neighborhoods and police reform

Metro Council budget passed, focuses on disadvantaged neighborhoods and police reform

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Louisville Metro Council approved the budget for the upcoming fiscal year with a 24-1 vote.

The budget includes significant funding for disadvantaged neighborhoods in the city; it adds more than $9 million to support home repair, address vacant and abandoned properties, and create a pathway for Black ownership:

+ $5 million more for the Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund and its partners

+ $2.5 million for programs that support home repair, address vacant and abandoned properties and increase homeownership

+ $1 million for a new homeowner and rental repair loan fund to support the improvement of residences

+ $413,400 to clean up neighborhoods and alleys which are often used for illegal dumping

+ $170,000 to hire two Code Enforcement Officers with Develop Louisville to help revitalize disadvantaged neighborhoods

For 20 years, Reverend Charles Elliot Junior has hoped to see the number of vacant and abandoned properties significantly decrease in Louisville.

"I thought I would be through with it by now but look like it done got worse," Elliot said. "But we gonna overcome. I just have faith in God that we're gonna do it."

In 2000, Elliott came up with a concept called Jesus and a Job, renovating abandoned and vacant properties for needy families and providing needed jobs. Last year they fixed up 27 houses.

"Doing a house here and a house there won't do it," Elliot said."We need to blocks at a time and fix them up and put them back on the tax roll and be a pride of a young man when they become homeowners."

Reverend Elliot said he's hopeful for what the money towards housing in Louisville could mean for the city.

“We want this whole block renovated,” Elliott said while showing WAVE 3 News several properties on 22nd Street. “[These houses are] right in front of a church and we just got blocks and blocks and blocks of property that is boarded up where people need to live.”

The Metro Council budget also includes federal funding from the CARES Act for rent assistance and small business assistance as a result of coronavirus-related financial issues.

In addition, $3.5 million would go to build and support a community grocery in a food desert.

The budget Metro Council passed Thursday does not cut funds from LMPD’s $190 million dollar budget. Instead, it provides $763,500 to fund a civilian oversight system for LMPD. It also redirects $1.2 million dollars in state funds to put social workers with police officers on certain cases.

The $1.2 million also covers training, including the use of force, de-escalation and implicit bias, and recruiting for a police force that “more closely looks like and lives in the community.” The council also wants the mayor and LMPD to spend $1.6 million in federal funds for the same purposes.

Mayor Greg Fischer released a statement following the council's vote Thursday:

"My thanks to the Metro Council for their partnership and diligence on the FY21 budget, especially Budget Committee Chairs Bill Hollander and Kevin Kramer.

"When I proposed this continuation budget in April, I cited serious budget uncertainties related to COVID-19. In more recent weeks, while our funding levels for this budget are still not firmly set, there has been greater certainty on another front: We need more investment in human capital.

"We are experiencing one of the most challenging times in our history, with the COVID-19 pandemic, protests against structural racism, an economic recession and the need for police reform. Yet these challenges also present an opportunity to enact substantive transformation on many fronts, include building a more just, equitable and compassionate community. And that starts with addressing the root causes for disparity, which is why I am pleased we were able to work with Council to increase funding for affordable housing, and add funding to address vacant and abandoned properties and other neighborhood-level investments.

"I am also pleased this budget advances some of our steps toward police reform, including funding for the Civilian Review Board and an office of Inspector General. And I look forward to working with the Council on how to best utilize the $1 million youth appropriation.

“And I remain hopeful that Congress will soon approve additional funding for state and local governments still struggling with the impact of COVID-19 on our budgets. Additional funding would allow us to make more investments to move us closer to the goal we share for the future – a compassionate city where every person from every neighborhood has the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

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