The executive director of the Louisville Metro Housing Authority says the concentration of poverty in the Sheppard Square housing complex attracts predators and razing the debilitated structure is a necessary step to revitalize the historic Smoketown neighborhood.
Earlier this year, the city received a $22 million HOPE VI grant to tear down the 70-year-old complex with its 326-units. The plan is to replace Sheppard Square with a mixed income neighborhood that will cost around $157 million. Housing authority officials will meet with residents Thursday to discuss plans to either relocate or how to meet the criteria for returning to the new complex.
Louisville Metro Housing Authority Executive Director Tim Barry acknowledges the relocation process will be difficult for residents, but says the old barracks-style housing system is abysmal and most residents in the area want to leave.
“It needs to be replaced and it’s not fit for human habitation from the standpoint of its layout and design,” he says. “We can do better and we should do better…and I think that concentration of poverty stigmatizes people. I truly do, because it says to them in no uncertain terms because of your economic situation you’re not worthy of better housing. And I think that’s absolutely wrong.”