LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Metro Louisville has used millions of federal tax dollars to replace old and dangerous public housing projects including Clarksdale, Cotter Homes and Sheppard Square. Now there is a push to replace Beecher Terrace, but some are saying "enough."
Tyron Jones is a resident of Beecher Terrace. His 1-year-old daughter Tyragi has lived there her whole life, but Jones won't ever let her play outside.
"They should tear ‘em down immediately," Jones said on Wednesday. "That's where my parents went wrong with me cause I had to grow up in an environment like this. I don't want the same thing for her that I had to go through."
"Every time I hear a gunshot, there's my children on my phone, ‘Mama, you all right? Mama, you all right?'" said Almeta Hamilton, who been a resident of Beecher Terrace for three years.
Beecher Terrace's greater challenges are age and size, according to Tim Barry, the executive director of the Louisville Metro Housing Authority. The housing project, which was built in 1941, numbers 760 units in almost five dozen buildings spread over 32 acres.
"You got some crime and other social issues that need to be dealt with. Including the concentration of poverty," Barry said.
Such issues make Beecher Terrace ripe for a Choice VI federal grant application, Barry explained. But the program encompasses more than the demolition and reconstruction initiatives undertaken at Sheppard Square, and the former Clarksdale project - now Liberty Green - and Cotter Homes, which were re-purposed as Park DuValle.
"Choice VI is a systemic approach," Barry said. "Beyond the boundaries of Beecher Terrace. We also would bring in redevelopment of the East Russell neighborhood and the Louisville Central Community Center.
But one resident of Parkway Place, who prefers to remain anonymous, calls such pledges a breach of faith.
"That's not what we heard at all, little more than a week ago," the resident said. "They (the Housing Authority) was saying they already have a deficit of space—people still looking for apartments."
"We're gonna look around, and they're gonna be homeless all over the city," he said. "Because all the subsidized housing, all the low- income housing is gonna be gone."
Barry concedes that a rebuilt Beecher Terrace likely would not be unit-for-unit.
"There will be replacement housing. In all likelihood of course, it will be mixed income," he said.
Meaning some units could rent for market prices, similar to the rebuilt Sheppard Square.
How large would the new Beecher Terrace be and who could, or would, have to move?
"In terms of the layout and design all that is subject to discussion with the public," Barry said.
The Housing Authority first must apply for a $500,000 study grant. The deadline is August 12. Residents and community leaders will have an opportunity to weigh in at a public meeting to be scheduled in July, Barry said.
Hamilton believes that true change will leave the Housing Authority no choice.
"Break ‘em (her neighbors) up," she said "What good is gonna rebuild and leave' em right here? It's the same problem, gonna be here."
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