Louisville Magazine

MAR 2017

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

Issue link: https://loumag.epubxp.com/i/791253

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Page 76 of 112

74 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 3.17 cycle continues. at's a quarter-of-a- million-dollar difference. Now, if she had the opportunities and was able to live in the Highlands, could you imagine what she could have passed on to her heirs? It would be amazing. You gotta understand numbers. Not to the point where you need to have a college degree, but you have to understand the value of land. My mother did very well in teaching me that, even with a ninth-grade education. She always told me, she said, 'ey make no more land.'" Compound decreasing property values with decreasing homeownership. e nation's homeownership rate has declined since its peak in 2004. In 1990, the own- er-occupancy rate in west Louisville was 57 percent. Today it's 38 percent. Jessica Green says that landlords tell her all the time, "Jessica, I cannot keep houses on the market in west Louisville. As soon as I put a sign out, my house is going to rent." She has friends with good jobs who pay $1,100 a month in rent and could easily buy and maintain a $50,000 house in west Louisville but haven't been raised to know how to protect their credit, preventing them from becoming homeowners. She suggests getting local banks on board to loosen creditworthiness for mortgages in cases where people have significant income. Hinko also mentions that the Urban League and other organizations have worked with people on pre-mortgage counseling, which can lower the likelihood of default. ough there are people with the means to buy homes but for whatever reason have not yet, Green and others I talked to stressed the importance of jobs in the West End. West Louisville has been fighting for years for major development in several vacant locations. Most recently, both the proposed Food Port at 30th Street between Muhammad Ali Boulevard and Market Street and Walmart halted plans. Bray and others I talked to are in favor of putting the much-debated Veterans Affairs hospital at the former Food Port site. e latest census estimate of the area's median house- hold income is $22,471. It's hard to keep track of the boarded-up houses in the West End, even harder to keep track of churches. "Can you imagine what it would look like if they didn't have faith?" Bray says. "It would be total chaos." We drive down Algonquin Parkway, where maple and oak trees line the edges of deep front yards and the homes are tidy and architecturally varied. "ese were working-class families," Bray says. "Nurses, people who worked at the factories — Ford, GE." We turn up 35th Street and reach Park DuValle, a federally funded mixed-income housing development built in the late 1990s that replaced the old Cotter and Lang housing projects. e median home value in this neighborhood is $145,000. It's where Jessica Green lives, and she says that people who qualify for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers will wait on a list for three to five years to get into one of these homes or apartments. "Oh, this looks like a foreclosure," Bray says when she spots a piece of paper taped to a front door. We get out to look at the big brick house with a two-car garage. e foreclosure judgement for this house is $15,000. e PVA has it valued at $161,000. e cleaning and boarding liens on it began in late 2013, but the house looks to be in decent shape. "Nice house, huh?" Bray says. "What happened to this person's life that this house is now being sold for $15,000? Whole lotta people will bid on it. Promise you." is house, which hasn't even aged 20 years, is unlike so many of the houses that not even investors with the means will touch. Most of these houses were built be- fore 1940. ey have architectural charm, hardwood floors, multiple fireplaces, but along with that comes their ages, old electrical systems and neglect from owners lacking the equity to maintain them. Let's say a house goes to auction for an attractive $5,000. It could need $50,000 worth of work. And it then may not even appraise and sell for $40,000. Bray asks: What takes the city so long to foreclose and sell the property to someone who will take care of it? Why wait so long and let it decay and spend so many city resources on maintenance when often no one is even paying property taxes on these spots? e Park DuValle house is one of the 300 foreclosures that the city has initiated since 2012. Almost 80 of those were initiated between late 2015 and late 2016. e Kentucky and U.S. constitutions prevent Metro Louisville from seizing private property without due process. If at least 30 days have passed since a property has accumulated fines and fees for delin- quent taxes or code violations, and if the owner has not paid or responded to the fees — only then can the city initiate fore- closure, if it has the funds to do so. After that, the process takes at least 18 months. Another reason it takes so long to seize and resell these properties is that property titles are often unclear. Delinquent tax liens are often sold to third-party investors who can make a lot of money off interest accrued when people don't pay their taxes on time. Last spring, Gov. Matt Bevin signed a bill that would allow Louisville to spot-condemn more easily, so that it can force ownership and cleanse the title of lienholders. Part of the bill allows the city to designate certain neighborhoods where the sale of delinquent tax liens to third parties would be prohibited, preventing these cloudy titles in the future and speed- ing up the time it takes to get the property into reuse. "A little like locking the barn door after the horse has been stolen, but better than nothing," Hinko says. ere's also no law in Kentucky that says you have to register a deed within a certain time, which is why unclear ownership remains an issue. Plus, it used to be that anyone who bid on a property in foreclosure had some time to come up with the money. Now, bidders are re- quired to have a bond beforehand, which We get out to look at the big brick house with a two-car garage. The foreclosure judgement for this house is $15,000. The PVA has it valued at $161,000. "Nice house, huh?" Bray says. "What happened to this person's life that this house is now being sold for $15,000?"

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