Cynthia Schepers held the door open to her one-bedroom apartment off Cane Run Road Wednesday afternoon as dozens of people shuffled in and out, peeking into her bedroom laden with Pokémon-stuffed dolls and opening doors to expose storage spaces and a stackable washer and dryer.
“It’s just about safety and consistency. That’s not something I really had,” said Schepers, who moved into an apartment at Family Scholar House’s new multimillion-dollar Frank and Paula Harshaw campus in the South End in March.
In the state foster care system, Schepers explained, she never knew if her foster parents would suddenly kick her out or if she’d simply be moved into another new home, part of a foster care shuffle. Schepers aged out of the foster care system but was given help to find a place to live and continued assistance while she attends college at the University of Louisville.
A junior, Schepers said her apartment at the Harshaw campus gives her a steady living situation, as well as provides support services as she pursues a degree in exercise science. When she graduates, she told Insider she wants to work with children in the foster care system and teach them about the connection between physical and mental health.
The Harshaw campus is part of a broader $71 million dollar intergenerational multifamily housing development called Riverport Landings, which includes 108-unit Riverport Senior Living, the 240-unit Riverport Family Apartments and the 64-unit Riverport Scholar House. The project was developed by the nonprofit Family Scholar House, the low-income housing developer LDG Development and the for-profit local developer The Marian Group.
In addition to low-income and affordable housing for single parents, people who’ve aged out of foster care and older residents, Riverport Landings, once complete, will have a 2.5-acre community park and 18,000-square-feet of retail space. It already has a 16,000-square-foot community service facility, where social services can co-locate, and a clubhouse with a business center, pool and fitness center.
“Everybody has to be connected to a hopeful and bright future so everybody feels like they are doing well,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “Everybody has got to have a place they feel is theirs.”
Cathe Dykstra, chief possibility officer at Family Scholar House, said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony that building affordable, intergenerational housing where families, young adults and older residents can interact is a major part of Louisville’s master plan, Vision Louisville.
“We appreciate everybody who has been involved, and we appreciate the support we’ve gotten to make this a reality,” she said. “When affordable housing is combined with education, career development and supportive programs, new opportunities make way for new possibilities, and we all benefit.”
Family Scholar House resident Kalyn Maddox said, after becoming a teenage mother, the chance to live on the Harshaw campus with her 4-year-old daughter, go to college and receive support, including child care, seemed “too good to be true.”
“There are not enough words to describe what these past few months have been like for us as we settle into this new chapter in our beautiful apartment,” said Maddox, who is a sophomore at the University of Louisville studying nursing. “When I found out we were going to move onto this beautiful campus, tears filled my eyes. I could not contain all the emotions, the opportunity to live in our own space, to focus on school and to continue to grow as a mother and student.”
Maddox added that she is excited that her daughter will be able to see her follow her dreams.
The funding for the Riverport Landings project came from tax-exempt bonds; low-income housing tax credits; the Kentucky Housing Corporation; traditional construction and capital loans from Red Stone Partners, PNC Bank and U.S. Bank; Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government’s HOME and Louisville CARES programs; HOPE of Kentucky; the James Graham Brown Foundation; Frank and Paula Harshaw; The Ezekiel Foundation; and Family Scholar House fundraising.
During the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Riverport Landings, Christine Merrell, managing director and chief underwriter for Red Stone Partners, called the project “an absolute standout.”
“The quality of housing is some of the best I’ve seen,” she said.
Riverport Landings is Family Scholar House’s fifth campus in Louisville, and while each campus is different, gives an idea of what a Family Scholar House development at the Urban Government Center in Paristown Pointe could look like.
The nonprofit also is part of a plan led by The Marian Group, and it hopes to develop a similar campus of housing and support services for single parents seeking an education. Family Scholar House’s role in the Marian Group’s plan and the city’s choice to partner with The Marian Group on the redevelopment of the Urban Government Center has stirred some controversy.