Members of the faith-based organization Citizens of Louisville Organized and United Together are expected to attend the groundbreaking for the 30-story, $289 million Omni Hotel and Residences in downtown Louisville this morning, but unlike the government and business leaders expected to attend, the group won’t be celebrating.
CLOUT members plan to use the opportunity to speak out about the continuing dearth of affordable housing in Louisville. The city needs 60,000 more affordable housing units to fill the current need, according to information provided by the Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund, a fund the city created in 2008 to address the affordable housing shortage.
The trust fund has received $1.5 million from Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government since its inception, according to a news release from CLOUT, and organization members say that is not enough considering the city is shelling out millions to the Omni Hotel at Third and Liberty streets.
The city has awarded $139 million in incentives to TRT Holdings Inc., the Texas-based company that owns the Omni Hotel brand, according to a previous Insider Louisville story. The state also has chipped in $90.5 million in tax rebates toward the project, and the city’s parking authority is paying for a $17 million parking garage.
The Omni Hotel is expected to employ 320 people and create 765 construction jobs, according to the city. In its release, CLOUT noted that most of those positions are low-income jobs.
“Our city officials have found funds to subsidize this luxury housing. Now it’s time for them to invest in housing that is affordable for Louisville citizens at every income level — like the people who will be cleaning the rooms, serving the meals and parking the cars for visitors at this luxury hotel,” CLOUT co-president Beverly Duncan said in the release. “Not everyone can afford to live in luxury, but everyone deserves a safe, decent place to call home.”
The city plans to launch a new initiative next month called Louisville Creating Affordable Residences for Economic Success, or Louisville CARES. Back in May, Mayor Greg Fischer announced the creation of the $12 million affordable housing initiative that will include a $10 million to $11 million revolving loan fund for developers and nonprofits to build affordable multifamily homes and $1 million that the city will use to buy land for the projects.
Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund helped shape the Louisville CARES program but won’t administer the money; Develop Louisville will take on that role.
CLOUT wants Metro Council to pass an ordinance by March 23 that would dedicate $10 million annually specifically to the Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
The council commissioned a 2015 University of Louisville Urban Studies Institute analysis related to affordable housing in the city. It found that if the insurance premium tax was raised 1 percent, it could generate $13 million in funding for the Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
By year five, affordable housing construction would create 587 jobs, add $23.2 million to the annual payroll and add 750 affordable housing units, the study found.