Kentucky city seeks to help residents buy vacant properties

August 13, 2022 GMT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky city will is considering new rules that would help local residents purchase abandoned properties in their neighborhoods, especially if they plan to turn them into owner-occupied homes.

Louisville’s Landbank Authority currently owns more than 600 vacant parcels, most of which are empty lots, the Courier Journal reported.

Over the past 10 years, Louisville has worked to transform the thousands of abandoned properties that have plagued its lowest-income neighborhoods into affordable homes, new businesses and community gardens. But many of the properties have been sold to outside developers. Now the Landbank Authority plans to vote on a range of policy and program revisions aimed at giving preference to residents who live near the properties, as well as people who plan to turn them into owner-occupied homes.

The changes follow a two-year racial equity review of the Authority’s programs, conducted in the wake of the 2020 racial justice protests. Their goal is to increase homeownership among Black residents. The Authority is asking for input on the proposals before voting on them next month.

Homeownership provides an “opportunity for financial wealth not only for themselves but for their families,” said Rev. Jamesetta Ferguson, a member of the Authority’s board and senior pastor at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ. “And so to make all of this happen, there are a vast array of new programs that have been established, and we are asking for community input.”

The proposed changes include establishing a $1 million Landbank Homeownership Improvement Fund to assist with the cost of rehabbing properties and revising applicant eligibility to include long-term renters, who could purchase vacant lots on their blocks.