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'There is a critical need for housing': Louisville officials eye former Iroquois complex as site for mixed income units

At a meeting Monday, LMHA Director Lisa Osanka said the agency plans to build 550 units of mixed income housing.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Metro councilmembers are asking for community input, as the Louisville Metro Housing Authority moves forward with plans for mixed income housing at the former Iroquois Homes site in the Hazelwood neighborhood. 

Monday, Councilwoman Nicole George (D21) and Councilman Kevin Triplett (D15), called a meeting of community stakeholders to discuss LMHA's plans. 

"There is a critical need for housing everywhere in the city of Louisville and most certainly in the south end," Triplett said. 

LMHA Executive Director Lisa Osanka said the city is short tens of thousands of housing units, and at least 30,000 for residents who are the most in need.

Monday, Osanka detailed LMHA's plans to build new housing at the site of the former Iroquois Homes complex. 

Osanka said the plans include about 550 units of mixed income housing. Some will be market rate, some fixed income and some low income. 

Previously, the site held about 850 units of affordable housing. 

“That’s what might have been built in the 1950s’," Osanka said. "We looked at models at Park Duvall, at Liberty Green, at Sheppard Square and at Beecher Terrace about what a more sustainable number of units would be on site.”

A decade ago, the Iroquois complex off of Taylor Boulevard was declared obsolete and demolished. 

Since then, LMHA has allowed community groups like Carol Gundersen's Food Literacy Project to create urban farming space on the land. 

“Throughout the pandemic, young people have grown and distributed over 3,000 pounds of vegetables in this neighborhood," Gundersen said. 

Gundersen said the group has been using the space for about six years now. She said affordable housing is a huge need in the community, and they support LMHA, but finding a new space will be a challenge. 

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“It’s disappointing to leave a space that we love and have invested in," she said. “We are still looking for a forever home for our organization that’s mission is rooted in the land." 

At Monday's meeting, community stakeholders like neighborhood association representatives and business owners came to ask questions. 

Most said they see the need for affordable housing. They just want community input to be heard during the process. 

“Who will be involved, how will they be involved, what will be the scope of neighbors having a voice?" Gundersen said. 

Osanka said LMHA intends to bid for federal stimulus money to fund the project. Because that money is coming from the U.S. Treasury, and not the Department of Housing and Urban Development, she is less familiar with the required community input guidelines. 

George and Triplett are rolling out an independent survey, in partnership with the Southwest Dream Team, to source community feedback.

The survey will be distributed to neighborhood associations in the New Cut/Taylor Boulevard area, and will be open until May 1st.

There are also plans for door-to-door canvassing. 

Osanka said there is no set timeline for beginning or completing construction on the new housing, because LMHA will still need to secure funding.

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Contact reporter Grace McKenna at GMcKenna@whas11.com or on Facebook or Twitter.  

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