Federal grant to fund beginning of Beecher Terrace makeover - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Federal grant to fund beginning of Beecher Terrace makeover

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- One of Louisville's most troubled neighborhoods could get a massive makeover.

Louisville's Housing Authority has been awarded a $425,000 grant that could be the first steps towards a new future for Beecher Terrace, Louisville's largest remaining public housing complex.

The announcement brought Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro to Louisville for a tour of Beecher Terrace, along with Gov. Steve Beshear, Congressman John Yarmuth and Mayor Greg Fischer. Though the event was well-orchestrated, it did give a glimpse of the challenges the area faces.

"We've had so many homicides within this area, and families are now concerned that the kids can't play," Makeeba Edmunds told the group. Edmunds works as a housing services specialist for the Housing Authority.

Ola Mae Howard has lived in Beecher Terrace for 14 years, and has seen the rise in drugs and crime. Howard says she's often too scared to go outside.

"All of the sudden, you'll hear a 'pow-pow-pow,' and then you see people running, you know," she said.

Howard is hoping the announcement of the grant money will help lead to change.

"You're coming together to build a better tomorrow in West Louisville, and HUD wants to be your partner in this progress," Castro said during the ceremony.

The so-called Choice Neighborhood grant is strictly for planning a strategy, and will not pay for any renovation.

"It's a great announcement from the standpoint that it gives us the funds to start a two-year planning process, not only for Beecher Terrace, but all of Russell," said Tim Barry, director of the Housing Authority.

Federal funds for a major makeover could come next, though Castro is not ready to make any multi-million dollar promises.

"That's a separate process. We're taking it one step at a time, but it certainly means that in the future Louisville will be competitive for that grant," he said.

For residents, that future can't come quickly enough.

"Well I would like to see them tear it down and rebuild," said Howard.

"I want to see it come back up and be cleaner and better and people follow the rules," said Shera Johnson, who lives in Beecher Terrace with her four children.

Though it may be years before there are any physical changes at Beecher Terrace, residents hope the grant will more quickly lead to changes in perception.

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