West Louisville residents concerned with growing number of halfw - WDRB 41 Louisville News

West Louisville residents concerned with growing number of halfway houses

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - It's the part of West Louisville you don't often see on the news.

"We have beautiful homes down here. We have the same homes you see in St. Matthew's and the Highlands," Donna Pervis-Foster said.

Homes rich in character and tucked away from the drugs and violence.

"We don't want to abandon something that our parents worked hard for you know."

A place where neighbors have been neighbors for generations. "I can tell you I've been here 39 years,"Pervis-Foster said.

She said she now fears the problems of West Louisville are hitting too close to her home.

"Just drive down Broadway. Broadway has a number of them," she said, referring to the 8 and 10 bedroom homes that once housed Louisville's large black families. Many of the houses have now been turned into halfway houses or properties with rooms for weekly rent. "It's people trying to make a quick dollar," Pervis-Foster said. "Look at all the trash, crime and litter," she added.

Pervis-Foster is a neighborhood watch captain in the Westover subdivision. She said the housing crisis crippled Louisville's poorest zip codes with abandoned, blighted, and foreclosed homes.

"They're going for a song," said Councilwoman Cheri Bryant-Hamilton. She says investors are capitalizing by purchasing the vacant properties and using them in ways zoning never intended.

"They just come in in the middle of the night. Move in people through the back door and they're operating illegally," said Bryant-Hamilton.

Some of the investors are bringing with them a transient and at times dangerous population.

"This is an example of what we're talking about. Someone wanted to come in and make it a transitional house," Bryant-Hamilton said.
 
She asked Metro Council to pass a one year ban on zoning permits linked to transitional and rooming housing in the Chickasaw and Shawnee neighborhoods. The request comes six months after a WDRB investigation uncovered more than 300 fugitives who left a state assigned halfway house in the neighboring Russell community.

Hamilton says the new owners typically do not apply for new permits. The problem has gotten so out of hand that city government doesn't even know many of these properties exist in west Louisville.

"We need a moratorium so we can do a count. So we can go door to door and see exactly what's going on in our neighborhood, because we want to preserve this," Bryant-Hamilton said. 

But where does that leave people like Cheyenne Brown?

"I wound up in the rooming houses when I became homeless, Brown said. "As a waitress I make money everyday, but I can't afford $450 a month on $2.13 an hour. So I have to break it down into weeks," she explained.

City leaders must find the balance between access to safe and affordable housing and a community's vested interest in its own safety. "Where do you want these people to live? I mean do you want them to live in a park or something? To me, that would be discrimination. It's that simple," property owner Jeff Pasley said.

Jeff Pasley's plans rest on the answer. He's the new owner of a 10-bedroom home near Shawnee Park. His neighbors fear what he will do with the property. "I haven't made any decision really what I'm going to do with it. Whatever is most efficient and profitable," Pasley responded, when asked if he will turn the property into a halfway house or transitional home. 

"This house will likely be returned back to its original intent which is multi family living," Pasley said.

"We can't get families coming here if these things exist in our neighborhood," Pervis-Foster said. 

After 39 years, Pervis-Foster said she's not just fighting for her neighborhood. She's fighting to maintain a legacy, which is that nook in West Louisville you never see on the news, the one that still lives in peace.

"Do not think you're going to come here and destroy the values in our homes and destroy our communities with what you want to do," she said.

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