IMPACT: Income and poverty in West Louisville
Author: Renee Murphy
Published: 11:25 PM EDT November 2, 2017
Updated: 5:47 PM EDT November 3, 2017
IMPACT 0 Articles

Editor’s Note:

We have an update since Renee's story first aired. We've learned that Tammy and her family are no longer in danger of being evicted from their apartment. Her landlord tells us the rent has been worked out and Tammy is now in good standing.

WHAS11 has been examining the 9th Street Divide in Louisville. We’re a look at what separates us and what brings us together from the East End to the West End of the city.

Now, we are looking at the divide from a different angle. The invisible line that runs through downtown is stronger than ever in one category - income and poverty.

RELATED: IMPACT - The 9th Street Divide

The bed in Tammy's apartment.

We spoke with a mother of five who wants to protect the identities of her children. We will refer to her as Tammy.

"This is it this is all I have right now,” Tammy said.

The family sleeps on a concrete floor with a crib mattress and blankets. There are trash bags in a corner that hold the clothing of five children.

"I feel like I failed my children and myself and I feel like there is no hope,” Tammy said.

"We sleep here. We eat here. I do my study here. They do their study here. When there is not enough room for the baby to play we just put them in the high chair or when it's time to sleep we all crowd up."

Emotion sweeps over her as she talks about her kids having a different life.

"I feel like they are suffering emotionally. They don't have friends because it causes them to go from school to school. It's going to cause them to be shut off from society. They say, ‘Mommy we really don't know what's going on. Why are you crying.’ Is this how life is supposed to be?"

Tammy and her children once lived in a van. Then, they stayed in a homeless shelter, and now, they live in an apartment which she is fighting to stay in.

She said her struggle didn't come from addiction or not wanting to work. After a failed attempt to create her business, she found herself with nothing left.

"I don't have a playpen. I don't have a play area. That was my dream to get a job, get a bigger place, have my own mortgage without having the government subsidize it. This was supposed to be temporary.”

She said the eviction process started after she lost her job and couldn't pay her rent. Since then, her landlord said the situation has been worked out.

"We are back in that same situation again. We have to get ready to go again. Losing that job really brought back memories of I'm back homeless again. I am going to be in the van again."

Tammy's story is not playing out in some remote corner of the city. She lives just west of 9th street.

On one side of 9th Street apartments run upwards of $1,000 to a month. On the other side of the divide, in some areas, the median household income is less than $10,000 a year.

Russell neighborhood median income

The median household income for Jefferson County is more than $48,695. The median household income for West Louisville ranges from $21,000 to $22,000.

When you break it down by neighborhoods in West Louisville the numbers are even more revealing. Portions of the Russell neighborhood have a median average income of $9,000.

Community leaders say income disparity and poverty are very real.

"It is a very critical issue,” Patricia Williams with the Louisville Central Community Center (LCCC) said.

The LCCC building is tucked away behind the Muhammad Ali Center. "It's sort of like a hidden secret sometimes," Williams said. They are quietly changing lives.

"[LCCC is] the place you can come to for assistance for referrals to resources."

Williams spends her time coordinating events at LCCC to help promote financial literacy and job placement for families in crisis like Tammy's.

"There is a lot of implicit bias in this area that we may not have a lot to offer from skills perspective and it just certainly is not true. Myself, I grew up in the West End of Louisville, and I think I turned out ok."

Williams helps to reveal a world that is hard for some to talk about –breaking perceptions, opening minds and getting down to the truth.

"We want the community to see it’s not about all of us as individuals. It's about the collective group," Williams said.

"Just give them encouragement," Tammy said.

Her story won't end like this. She said she will be a successful woman.

“I want them to know what having their own room is. I want them to know how it feels to be able to have dinner at a dinner table. I want that, I want them to have life I want them to have a chance, stability I want them to know, hey my mom tried,” Tammy said.

LCCC can always use community support. To find out the best ways to get involved click here.

Also, JCPS is one of the first groups to help families in crisis. They accept donations for furniture and other items of immediate need. You can connect with them here.


• The perception of the 9th Street Divide

• The race and segregation of the 9th Street Divide

• West Louisville's economy and the 9th Street Divide

• The unsung heroes of the 9th Street Divide

• INTERVIEW: Discussing the 9th Street Divide

• A different perspective of West Louisville

• The 9th Street Divide: Hidden Gems