Russell Neighborhood Blog Posts
Russell: What is the Right to Remain? Introduction.
SMART Russell is NOT Safe: How Metro is Spinning Increased Surveillance as Technological Advancement
Louisville Wins at the Expense of Vulnerable Black Communities: How Hiding Poverty and Displacement is a Violent Strategy to become a Competitive City.
Is Gentrification a Smoking Gun in Police Violence?
Housing, Neoliberalism, and Financialization: What REALLY Happens when the Private Sector Controls Public Assets
West Louisville Gentrification: What is the 9th Street Divide Redesign Project, Vision Russell, and Russell: A Place of Promise?
Who Owns Russell?
Historically we understand that racist policies such as redlining and urban renewal devastated Black neighborhoods and business districts, but the cycle of wealth extraction does not stop there. In 2015, Louisville Metro Government gave a $778,000 forgivable loan to the Lexington, KY developer, Community Ventures Corporation to buy 29 residential parcels of public land in Russell for market rate housing. Between the epidemic extraction of rent by absentee landlords, as well as the chronic city-sanctioned denial of entitlements, Black communities in Louisville have suffered tremendously. The obstacles to economic self-determination and the siphons of Black wealth leave communities like Russell incredibly vulnerable to adverse health outcomes due fundamentally to housing and asset insecurities.
What is Rent? - In low-opportunity neighborhoods, rental housing under capitalism is inherently violent and shelter is ransomed for rent. A tenant’s daily relation to shelter is undermined through rent increases, evictions, law enforcement, landlords and dilapidated dwellings. Louisville’s eviction rate is the 7th highest in the nation and double the national average. This violence of rent is normalized by blaming the wrongdoing on the dispossessed through criminalizing poverty and houselessness.
Recommendations & Vision for Just Development
in Traditionally Divested Communities
How the City Can Support Just Development
Reparations - Land Redistribution: Establish Community Land Trust for Russell residents from public land and donated land coupled with forgivable loans for property rehab and startup costs
Lien Forgiveness and Code Violation Forgiveness Program for property owners who donate their land to the Community land Trust for Russell residents who plan to live in the property for five years or longer
Pressure Absentee Landlords to bring properties up to code, fill vacant properties, or donate land to a Community Land Trust Louisville Metro for Russell residents
How the State Can Support Just Development
Freeze property tax for at-risk homeowners
Establish a Rent Control ordinance to protect renters from the cost of gentrification
Continue Tax Delinquent Deferral Program to prohibit the sale of delinquent tax bills
Methodology & References
The purpose of this investigation was to determine current land ownership in the Russell neighborhood within the context of structural discrimination in creating an uneven housing market for extractive wealth creation.
Geography - Louisville’s traditional urban neighborhoods were first defined by the Department of Public Works in 1975 and are still used today. We used the traditional boundaries for Russell, which are Market St to the north, 32nd St to the west, Broadway to the south, and 9th St to the east. Although the traditional eastern boundary is 10th St north of Muhammad Ali, we made and an exception and use 9th St for the continuous eastern boundary for this study.
Ownership - Using a parcel dataset for Russell from the Jefferson County Property Valuation Administration, we compared parcels whose owners live outside of West Louisville with those whose addresses were within the boundaries of West Louisville’s nine neighborhoods. While we were unable to determine Black property ownership, there is a high correlation between Louisville’s Black population and West End addresses. We broke this designation down into smaller geographies of addresses only within Russell and owner-occupied residential parcels.
In order to further breakdown the nature of extractive ownership, we did not include every organization whose address fell within the boundaries of the West End or Russell. For instance, the owners of many private businesses located in Russell live outside the community. We were able to make this determination by analyzing these businesses on a case by case basis. Churches were considered part of the community-owned entities if their historical ownership could be verified. We used the following criteria for non-profit (501c3) organizations, if a non-profit has been located in the West End or Russell for more than 5 years and over half of their board lives within the West End, they were considered as part of West End ownership. For instance, the Urban League and Louisville Central Community Center were considered as part of the West End based on these criteria, whereas organizations such as New Directions Housing Corporation and the YMCA were not.
Alexandra Kanik, Behind The Data: How We Found Louisville’s Highest Eviction Rates, July 5, 2018
Jacob Ryan, Instability Grows As Louisville Eviction Rate Doubles National Average, July 5, 2018
Jefferson County Property Valuation Administration, May 2019, https://jeffersonpva.ky.gov/property-search/
Louisville Metro Open Data Portal, https://data.louisvilleky.gov
Louisville Jefferson County Information Consortium Open Geospatial Data, https://data.lojic.org
Salviati, C. (2017). Rental Insecurity: The Threat of Evictions to America’s Renters. Apartment List.
Russell - 671 total acres (3284 parcels)
West End Owned Property - 216 acres (1378 parcels) - 32%
Russell Owned Property 125 acres (705 parcels) - 18%
Owner Occupied Property - 73 acres (654 parcels) - 11%
Public Owned Property - 115 acres (259 parcels) - 17%
Owned by Private entities outside West End - 340 acres (1647 parcels) 50%
Owned by 12 Orgs - 96 acres (295 parcels) - 14%
Vacant Property - 241 acres (1630 parcels)
Vacant land - 128 acres (870 parcels)
Vacant Structure - 112 acres (760 parcels)