Owensboro community development proposes 2025 NRSA boundaries

Owensboro community development proposes 2025 NRSA boundaries
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 6:39 PM CDT
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OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) - At Tuesday’s City Commission meeting, the City of Owensboro’s Community Development Department presented their proposed “Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Areas.”

The areas are identified by both the city and the community as low to moderate-income neighborhoods that need help offsetting the costs of maintaining buildings.

“The end goal is to create sustainable, affordable communities,” Community Development Director Abby Shelton said. “Of course, if we can beautify some areas we are in along the way, that’s what we do.”

For those properties or areas that are chosen, the money provided to help maintain their buildings can mean a big deal.

“We just spent a lot of money from 2016 until 2022 when we were able to receive the repairs,” said Cindy Jean, Executive Director of Fresh Start for Women.

Fresh Start for Women is a non-profit Owensboro organization. It focuses on helping out mothers who have fallen on hard times to get back on their feet.

When the staircases at their apartments continued to decline in quality, their concern turned to the over three dozen women and children at their facility.

“It put our children and our mothers kind of at risk,” Jean said.

The neighborhood revitalization strategy area that targeted the northwest neighborhood they were in was selected to receive help beginning in 2020. One of the projects the city decided to help out with was replacing the staircases, especially since they weren’t up to code.

“We focus on the population in our city that needs the most help,” Shelton said.

The initiative provides grant money from Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). These grants, overseen by Housing and Urban Development, help cut into the out-of-pocket costs for property owners and non-profits.

“It’s such a huge blessing for this side of town, the west end has always been kind of run-down, neglected,” Jean said.

Jean said since the city started taking on projects in the Northwest NSRA boundary, they’ve seen some big changes for the better.

“We’ve noticed a lot of improvement on this end, and the city has been super about just being generous and kind,” Jean added.

Shelton says the department will receive community input from city residents on areas of need, then by looking at demographics, most notably median income, they’re able to draw boundary lines that represent a group that meets qualifications.

Shelton says the boundary must have at least 51% of its residents within the low-moderate income level to qualify.

So what about the possibility of neighborhood beautification turning into gentrification? Shelton says the city never overloads one neighborhood with projects in order to maintain the affordability aspect of the program.

Even though property values may go up in those designated areas, Shelton says the city hasn’t seen any issues arise yet from the over 10 years they’ve been doing the program.

“We don’t worry about that here, because we are very careful about where we implement our projects in a way that will keep that baseline [cost of living],” Shelton said.

Home condition assessment statistics are done for the city by property assessors, which also help target certain neighborhoods that may qualify for NRSA.

In the past, the city has worked in neighborhoods such as Old Germantown, Baptisttown, Mechanicsville, and most notably, Triplett Twist.

The new proposed boundaries have to be approved by the city commission before Shelton can move forward with project assessment.

Below is the map of proposed boundaries beginning in 2025.

The red lines show the proposed boundaries, in blue are past project areas, and the green is...
The red lines show the proposed boundaries, in blue are past project areas, and the green is the current project area.(Steve Mehling (WFIE))