Patrons attended a taping of “Main Event Sports Radio” at the Toonerville Deli on Monday to raise money for Black Lives Matter Louisville’s housing program. | Photo by Michael L. Jones

Hosts of the “Main Event Sports Radio” donated a vacant west Louisville home to Black Lives Matter Louisville’s housing program during a live taping of the show at the Toonerville Deli in Old Louisville on Monday night.

“Main Event Sports Radio” is a local sports talk show hosted by Haven Harrington III, Raashaan Myers and William Wright. In addition to providing commentary on area teams, the three hosts discuss current events and issues affecting west Louisville.

The show is broadcast on Saturdays from 6 to 7 p.m. on 104.7-FM and streamed via Facebook Live and YouTube.

Harrington said for the last year, they have done their live stream from Toonerville on Monday nights. He said the deli’s owner also gives 15 percent of the sales on those nights to a nonprofit or charity.

Harrington explained that a fan of the show, who wants to remain anonymous, contacted them about giving away the house at 914 Louis Coleman Jr. Drive after it was announced that Monday night’s show would benefit BLM Louisville’s housing program.

The hosts presented the keys to the home to Chanelle Helm, BLM Louisville’s core organizer.

“We wanted to support BLM’s housing program because we agree with what she’s doing,” said Harrington. “With all the changes going on in the West End, it is probably going to become prohibitive for the current residents to become homeowners if we don’t do something about it now.

Harrington, a Russell resident, is a noted community activist. He has been a vocal leader of the campaign to end the concentration of sober living facilities in the West End.

Before Monday night’s show, Harrington told Insider he took journalist Soledad O’Brien — host of the nationally syndicated “Matter of Fact” — on a tour of the Russell neighborhood for a story she is doing on the impact of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhoods program on poor communities.

Louisville Metro officials have often touted the $1 billion in public and private investments in west Louisville that has occurred since the city received a $30 million Choice grant to redevelop the Beecher Terrace Housing Complex into a mixed-use community in 2016.

The 2018 State of Metropolitan Housing Report, released in November, found the new investment has increased the risk of minority and female-led households being involuntarily displaced by evictions, foreclosures and increased rents and property taxes.

BLM Louisville Core Organizer Chanelle Helm talks with “Main Event Sports Radio” host Haven Harrington III (middle) and William Wright. | Photo by Michael L. Jones

Helm said her organization started acquiring West End properties in January in order to avoid the negative impacts of gentrification.

“Investors all over the city have their eyes on the West End now,” she said. “We are tired of being displaced. This is not going to be a free-for-all for property in west Louisville. The BLM housing program is not about wealth. It’s about political power. Owning property means they can’t drive you out of your own neighborhood.”

BLM intends to use its properties to provide emergency shelter or transitional housing for West End families and to offer low-cost mortgages to those trying to rebuild their credit, she added.

The Coleman Drive home is the sixth house in BLM’s portfolio, all them donated or purchased for small sums. Helm said BLM has raised more than $60,000 to buy property and renovate the homes they already have.

Insider was the first news outlet to write about BLM’s housing program. Since that November article, Helm said a private donor has agreed to provide a $15,000 grant for three years so the organization can pay West End youth to help with the work.

She also said two real estate agents and a lawyer have volunteered to help BLM with the acquisition process.

The Coleman Drive property, which is accessed at more than $25,000, needs extensive repairs, Helm said, and has thousands of dollars in fines from the city because of code violations accrued over years of neglect.

BLM has had similar problems with a few of its other properties, too. The organization is going through the lien waiver process where it can, said Helm, and trying to raise money to pay fines when they cannot be appealed. She said the largest fine they have encountered so far was $8,000.

Harrington and Wright encouraged their listeners who own homes in west Louisville to hold onto them. If homeowners must get rid of their properties, Wright suggested they donate them to BLM or sell them to someone who lives in the community — just not an outside investor.

“Be mindful of what you have,” Wright said. “There is nothing like ownership. We can own our neighborhoods.”

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Michael L. Jones
Michael L. Jones, a freelance journalist and author, covers communities for Insider Louisville. His latest book "Louisville Jug Music: From Earl McDonald to the National Jubilee" (History Press) received the 2014 Samuel Thomas Book Award from the Louisville Historical League. In addition to his contributions to Insider, his writing appears regularly in LEO Weekly, Louisville Magazine, Food & Dining – Louisville Edition, and Who’s Who Louisville: African American Profiles. He also sits on the board of directors of the National Jug Band Jubilee. Jones and his wife, Melissa Amos-Jones, a physical therapist, live in the Kenwood Hills neighborhood near Iroquois Park.