Before 1997, the neighborhood around the 1,490-unit Cotter/Lang public housing project in Louisville, Kentucky, was aging, dirty, and riddled with crime. One of the neighborhood’s intersections was commonly known as “Murder Corner.”
Shortly after LCDB opened in 1997, it turned its eye on Cotter/Lang. The vision of the bank and its allies was to create a vital, inviting community of mixed-income families, where privately owned homes and rental properties would replace shabby housing projects without displacing current residents. Today, the same neighborhood is the most desirable in the city, now called Park DuValle.
When completed, the neighborhood will have 450 owner-occupied homes and 600 rental units, schools, a community health center, houses of worship, and neighborhood shops.
“Park DuValle was designed to be a real neighborhood, without a concentration of any one income bracket,” says Kelly Downard. Fourteen households earn less than 50 percent of the median income, while 27 earn more than 115 percent of the median. The rest of the residences are home to low- and middle-income families. Many residents of the old Cotter/Lang development still live in the neighborhood
What makes a home purchase in Park DuValle different is that homebuyers can receive a government subsidy on their mortgage, depending on their income. If a qualifying buyer stays for five to nine years, only a portion must be repaid; if the buyer stays for 10 years, the repayment is waived completely. In addition to building neighborhood stability, the subsidy also trains homebuyers about smart homeownership. Subsidy recipients must take a course to learn about managing their money wisely.
“Eighty-five percent of our loan recipients are first-time homebuyers, and this is a dream they never thought they could achieve,” says Downard. “None of it would have been possible without community investors.”