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New fund would help preserve historic homes in Louisville's underrepresented neighborhoods

This sizeable loan fund will be available to owners of historic properties in Louisville's underrepresented neighborhoods.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — City leaders hope an influx of cash will help preserve the area's historic homes, by funding repairs and restoration projects.

Louisville Metro Government and the Owsley Brown II Family Foundation have together committed $1 million to preservation nonprofit Vital Sites.

At a news conference Wednesday, officials said the money will establish a revolving loan fund to help owners of historic properties revitalize those structures.

The fund will prioritize properties in underrepresented neighborhoods, including those in West Louisville.

Mayor Greenberg said these homes are steeped in history and deserve to be preserved.

“We are glad to support Vital Sites’ mission to save and restore historic structures through this new revolving loan fund that will focus on properties in areas of our city where structures are more likely to become dilapidated because of a history of disinvestment,” Greenberg said.

Wednesday's news conference was held at a 135-year-old home on West Muhammad Ali, owned by Gaberiel Jones Jr. and Kaila Washington. WHAS11 spoke to them last summer. At the time, they estimated renovations for their new home would cost more than $300,000.

Wednesday, they said the loan program is a great way for other homeowners to help preserve the neighborhood's story. 

"One of the things I really appreciate about it is that it prioritizes people who live here right now," Jones said.

Properties must be listed or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places to receive assistance from a revolving loan under this program.

Vital Sites executive director Heath Seymour said that applies to a massive number of metro properties. 

"We now have around 15,000 of these sorts of properties here in Louisville and that includes great properties here in Russell," he said. "But there are also thousands more in the process of being listed in Chickasaw and Portland." 

Preference will be given to properties located in the nine neighborhoods of west Louisville and other areas with a high density of historic structures and a history of underrepresentation, including Griffytown, Beechmont, James Taylor-Jacob School, Smoketown, Shelby Park and Taylor Berry.

Vital Sites will award low-interest loans, at interest rates of about 1%-2%, to property owners to complete interior and exterior repairs. 

That includes painting, siding or masonry work, roofing, fencing, electrical, plumbing and flooring on commercial or residential properties. 

The maximum loan available through this fund is $75,000.

“We’ve had a lot of obstacles to put this place together. We used to sit outside this house and dream and see it deteriorate day by day," Washington said. "This fund will provide us the opportunity to bring life back to this home and help homeowners like ourselves with the cost burden of restoring these magnificent homes."

Jones and Washington said renovating their home is more than a passion project.

“This house has changed the way we think about ownership because everything we own, we don’t get to keep; we ultimately leave it behind. So, for us, it is what are we going to leave behind for the community. This is an example of the love we are going to leave for the community,” Jones said.

They'll be working on their own projects in the months to come. You can follow along on their Instagram account. 

Vital Sites said the best way to determine if your property if eligible is to check their website

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