Louisville Housing Experiment

Think government-controlled experiments on our nation’s poor are a thing of the past?

Think again.

Louisville Metro Housing Authority (LMHA) recently announced its plans to participate in a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sponsored “study” that experiments on one of our city's most vulnerable populations: low-income people of color. The study focuses on Housing Choice Vouchers, a federal voucher program that assists low-income families in renting safe and affordable housing. If left up to HUD and LMHA, voucher users in Louisville and Lexington will soon be enrolled in a lottery – one where chosen participants will face higher monthly rent payments, receive no rent deductions for critical items like childcare and medical expenses, and worst of all, have NO option to opt out.

Louisville and Lexington Housing Authorities volunteered to participate in this study. Kentuckians have the chance to stop it before it starts.

  • LMHA will meet Tuesday, July 15 at 3:30 p.m. to vote on whether or not to allow this study in Louisville. Join KFTC members and allies at this meeting to voice your oppositionto the study, urging LMHA members to VOTE NO on Louisville’s participation. The meeting will take place at the LMHA Office, 420 S 8th St. Louisville, KY 40203.
  • Submit comments on the study to Sarah Laster (slaster@lmha1.org502-569-4471, 420 S. 8th Street, Louisville, KY 40203) by July 13. Take a look at the full proposal online and reference these talking pointsto help prepare your comments. Also check out this Leo article for some background info.
  • Write a letter to the editor to the LEO Weekly or The Courier Journal. Take a look at KFTC’s online guide for writing a letter to the editor and reference our newspaper contact info before you submit your letter.
     

We have a small window of opportunity to stop this experiment in its tracks. Please join us in telling the Louisville Metro Housing Authority that we, as Kentuckians, deserve better.

Thank you for taking action!
 

Talking points on "Rent Reform Study" (written by Louisville Showing Up For Racial Justice)

1)  Louisville is choosing to participate in a HUD rent reform study that overwhelmingly impacts on low income Black (90%) mothers in public housing. 

2)  HUD asked several cities to participate in a "Rent Reform Study Addendum to the Housing Choice Voucher Program," and many others declined to do so. Louisville and Lexington are among the few participating.

3)  Implication is that making the conditions to get subsidized housing more painful will force more of these women to seek employment. The cultural assumption is that these women just do not want to work.

4)  Targets lowest income Black mothers (at a LMHA hearings on June 4, and June 26 the full room was overwhelmingly Black women: African American native born and African immigrants).

5)  The 1000 who will be part of the study do not have the right to opt out. They do not choose to be part of this. This may violate Institutional Review Board principles which require informed consent.  

6)  We are going from NO minimum rent to $75 (there was to be a $100 minimum rent but under pressure LMHA agreed to reduce to $75). A hardship waiver obscures who will get hurt as some will be exempt under that waiver, but as housing advocates have pointed out, the procedure for hardship is cumbersome, temporary and undermines the experiment.  

7)  Deductions for child care are taken away. Child care deduction is an incentive to help support women who work. If we want people to work, why would we take away the ability to deduct childcare costs? This could place children in more at risk situations.
 

UPDATE:

Proposed Moving To Work Activity: Rent Reform Study
Update
July 30, 2014
 
Good afternoon,
 
The Louisville Metro Housing Authority (LMHA) would like to thank you for your comments on the proposed Moving To Work (MTW) Activity: Rent Reform Study. LMHA values the community’s input on its MTW Program.

In response to comments received during the public comment period, LMHA will make changes to the Rent Reform Study to provide households with the choice to "opt-out" of the alternative rent policy, reduce the minimum rent to $50, and exclude from the pool of potential participants households currently taking a child care deduction. These changes are further described in the attached.

LMHA will seek input from local advocates and legal aid on a process to ensure that families are fully informed of the potential benefits and risks of the alternative policy and achieve an understanding of the facts so the family can determine whether or not to participate.
 
Also, LMHA will continue to work with area housing, legal, and supportive service providers to develop procedures for implementing the hardship policy, including procedures for the expedited waiver process that are considerate of the written 7-day notice and not inadvertently burdensome to families. Additionally, LMHA is working with its partners to create a package of wrap-around services that will be available to all households in the Study.

LMHA would like to thank HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research and the Rent Reform Demonstration Study team, including MDRC, for the opportunity to discuss the community's concerns and make certain changes to the alternative rent policy and study enrollment protocol.
 
For questions, please contact Sarah Laster at slaster@lmha1.org or 569-4471.
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