City and federal officials have been applauding the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s decision to give Louisville a Hope VI grant to raze the Sheppard Square public housing complex, but many residents aren’t cheering.
The city plans to replace Sheppard Square with a larger mixed-income neighborhood. HUD has promised that current residents will be given the chance to move back to the neighborhood. But Kalilah Collins with Women in Transition says research on other Hope VI developments has shown that only about 25 percent of those displaced return. She says displaced families can be hurt by the transition, because of their dependence on neighborhood connections.
“Their access to the Broadway bus is not gone,” she says “their access to a local person who can get their check cashed, or whatever the case may be that’s now gone, you tear up their social networks and that’s important to people.”
Collins says rising costs, different requirements for the new housing or availability have scattered residents and she is skeptical about the promise made by HUD to bring residents back.
She’s also concerned about the current residents who will be relocated, then given the chance to move back, especially since the cost of living has increased in several other Hope VI developments.
“The question is what happens to them in ten years, or in five years or two years when they can’t pay their high LGE bills or their water bills they never had to pay before,” Collins says “or their rent gets to be too high, or they have to fix a leak in the bathroom, what happens to them then?”