After maintenance issues raised questions about the condition of Louisville’s public housing, the city’s housing director faced members of the Metro Council on Wednesday.
Lisa Osanka, executive director of the Louisville Metro Housing Authority, spoke about delays in routine inspections and the agency’s problems financing maintenance and new projects.
Here are the main lessons learned from the hearing:
COVID-19 delayed public housing inspections in Louisville
Addressing recent headlines on mold and other concerns in public housing in her opening statement, Osanka said LMHA had postponed some inspections amid the COVID-19 pandemic with the approval of the Federal Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.
“We are now busy seeing all of these units with our eyes and ears and having a plan to get that done,” she said. “But we’re a little behind schedule and I believe a number of these points that came up would have been highlighted had we been able to get into these units and address these issues.”
She added that LMHA “is actively addressing any issues that have come to light in these reports.”
When asked, Osanka also said she did not immediately know how many government homes in Louisville were vacant due to maintenance problems.
Does LMHA have enough money for maintenance?
A recurring question has been how to fund all of the work that needs to be done to address public housing issues across the community.
Osanka reiterated that LMHA does not receive any money from the Metro government and is operated primarily with funds from HUD. The agency plans to spend approximately $ 11 million a year on maintenance and “capital improvements” over the next five years, she added.
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But D-9th District Councilor Bill Hollander said he doubts this will be enough to solve the myriad of problems Louisville’s public housing stock is facing.
âI’m not saying we have the money,â he said of the Metro government funding for LMHA, âbut I think it is – you have a large portfolio of units and really not a lot of money that You have to keep them on, âhe said.
Councilor Keisha Dorsey, D-3rd District, said the city should consider allocating money to the problem.
“If we can fix some of these (problems) with some of these one-time dollars from the US bailout, I would be very interested in this conversation,” she said.
Update on the future of the Iroquois Homes website
When asked about the former location of the Iroquois Homes public housing complex, Osanka announced that LMHA is “ready to apply for funding” to start a new “mixed income development” on its South Louisville property near Taylor Boulevard and Interstate 264 to build. The agency plans to apply for funds from the American Rescue Plan to fund the project, she added.
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“We would, I believe, like any other developer in the community, compete through ARP dollars … We always hope to have a competitive application to get those ARP dollars,” she said.
The old complex of Iroquois Homes was razed to the ground in the early 2010s and has been part of the property ever since used as a community garden.
Osanka said one of the past challenges with the property was that it was a “wet site”;
Mary Ramsey is a current reporter for The Courier Journal. Reach them under [email protected], and follow her on Twitter @ mcolleen1996. Support strong local journalism in our community by Subscribe to The Courier Journal today.