Like the rest of West Louisville, our neighborhood of Portland has been campaigning for new investments and utilities for decades.
Families have moved and some are returning. The houses have been loved, but unfortunately many abandoned. Faithful residents, nonprofit partners, local businesses and the government have held out as housing and job markets weighed on the lives and well-being of hundreds of families.
For the past three years, it’s like Portland may get what he wants. We celebrate the new investments of residents and owners that help preserve the residential fabric of our neighborhoods. We never needed more slumlords.
So we ask, “What do we do when we get what we want?” Well, the party is short, and then we get back to work. But we’re celebrating! (The Portland Family Reunion Festival is June 6 and the Portland Art & Heritage Fair is September 26.) We value new friends and come up with new ideas.
The big idea now is how do you keep the affordable mixed income lifestyle that Portland and West Louisville have always offered? No problem, do you think?
- We need a moderate income homeowner loan pool. Federal reports on the real estate crash proved it was an aggressive marketing of “quick” loans to buyers at all income levels that have failed. Buyers who were educated by the Homeownership Classes, as required by federal programs, had extremely low default rates.
- We need well maintained and affordable rental properties“Patient Money” is poised to take advantage of a slow, low return on investment, so good families who have lived here for generations can afford to stay here. There is research showing that mixed income neighborhoods are the best anti-poverty solution.
- We need a new balanced development. It balances private for-profit investment with nonprofit development by the reliable nonprofits who have “held the fort” with us all these years. Their work helps raise even higher dollars through public-private funding matches and charitable contributions.
- We need to preserve families and communities as well as housing. Good people work for the community and take care of families with very low paying jobs, or what is actually very little public support. Many young people find it difficult to finish school. While our school results are improving, we know we need to start even earlier so that every new mom and dad knows what they can do as their child’s first teacher.
We hope that initiatives like the West Louisville Connectors, or OneWest and Russell’s Choice Neighborhood Plan, as well as the Portland Investment Initiative, will be positive because we know that our neighborhoods are already teeming with good actors who are willing to work together.
We have citizens of Portland who act every day to hold or create a job for themselves and to raise their families. We use and improve public services. We monitor and report on this inventory of vacant properties. We work for the future of young people, their good health, crime prevention and clean streets.
So what do we do when we get what we want? Raise the bar. Make sure there is enough for everyone. We are happy to have all the help we can get!
Judy Schroeder is Senior Director for Neighborhood Engagement at Metro United Way. Gary Watrous is President of Watrous Associates Architects.