Plan to put income limits on public housing assistance in Louisville delayed

Plan to put income limits on public housing assistance in Louisville delayed
Published: Dec. 15, 2015 at 9:55 PM EST|Updated: Apr. 5, 2016 at 9:24 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The $100 million revitalization of a once-infamous public housing complex is nearing completion.

Mayor Greg Fischer toured Sheppard Square on Tuesday, and faced questions about a WAVE 3 News investigation that showed people making too much money are still getting taxpayer-funded housing assistance in Louisville.

Fischer said that was only a small percentage of the overall number of families living in Louisville's public housing.

"There (are) always going to be outliers in any type of system that big," Fischer said.

The mayor's comments came as the Louisville Metro Housing Authority announced more delays to a long-existing plan to put limits on how much a family can make while getting taxpayer-funded housing assistance.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Ky. families making $100,000 on public-housing assistance]

But Metro leaders on Tuesday celebrated the progress at Sheppard Square, a modern, mixed-income townhome center after years as a crime-ridden public housing complex.

"For a project of this scope, for this to happen in four years has been pretty phenomenal," Fischer said.

Taxpayers have invested hundred of millions of dollars in projects like Sheppard Square across Louisville. And it's taxpayers who are footing the bill to help families live in those units, even though some are making more money than is allowed under federal guidelines.

Records reveal in 2014 there were 23 families receiving Louisville Public Housing assistance and making more than $50,000. Eleven families were making more than $60,000. Three families were earning more than $70,000, and another close to $80,000.

[OTHER NEWS: Metro Gov't ends fiscal year with $18.9 million surplus]

The median household income in Louisville, is just $44,000.

In November, Louisville Metro Housing Authority Executive Director Tim Barry said the number of "over-income" families on public housing assistance in Louisville is just 1 percent of the overall public housing population. At that time, Barry said LMHA would propose income limits that would make assistance unavailable for the remaining families making too much money.

But on Monday, less than 24 hours from receiving final approval, that plan was put on hold because the Department of Housing and Urban Development is considering implementing its own guidelines -- income limits that are actually higher than what was set to be approved locally. That means some "over-income" families required to leave under the guidelines LMHA was considering will be allowed to stay under the soon-to-be proposed federal limits.

"And let me emphasize, there's 10 of them that are within $1,000," Barry said. "If you go ahead and move to have them vacate their units, and then HUD changes the rules, what have you done to them?"

As for the 3,500 families on the waiting list for public housing in Louisville, Fischer said the city is investing $12 million to increase the amount of affordable housing in Louisville, hoping to help those who can't get government assistance -- even as some who don't qualify continue to receive it.

As the city continues to iron out the income limits to get housing assistance and wrap construction on Sheppard Square, planning has already begun on the next public housing revitalization: Beecher Terrace. That project will focus on remaking the entire Russell neighborhood, not just the public housing buildings.

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