City of Louisville: Housing Rehabilitation for Low-Income Households & Premium Pay

Using the 5W's approach, the example below demonstrates one way the City of Louisville is channeling ARPA funds into the community.

Before (left) and after (right) shots of a home whose roof was repaired. Roof repairs are only the beginning of the housing improvements that the city is funding with ARPA and carrying out for qualifying residents. (Source: City of Louisville)

Before (left) and after (right) shots of a home whose roof was repaired. Roof repairs are only the beginning of the housing improvements that the city is funding with ARPA and carrying out for qualifying residents. (Source: City of Louisville)

Who?

Louisville’s ARPA funds have been used to provide housing rehabilitation aid to select low-income homeowners as well as premium pay for city employees at all levels. Nearly all of the housing rehabilitation grant recipients have been women between the ages of 50 and 102.

What?

The City of Louisville has used $125,000 of its American Rescue Plan funds to support a housing rehabilitation grant program. The pilot program, Building Up Louisville, provides lower-income residents with grants to make major home repairs to aging housing stock. The program initially focused on roof repairs, as roof damage can quickly cascade into other structural issues for a house’s exterior and interior. However, the program has since expanded to include other major repairs and replacements such as electrical/plumbing replacements, floor rehabilitation, exterior sidings, stairs, porches, and foundations.

Eligibility for the program is based on HUD’s household income ranges – household income limits range from $30,750 (one-person dwelling) to $50,950 (six-person dwelling). Applicants must be residents of Louisville, occupants named in the property deed, and up-to-date on property taxes, city utilities, and homeowner’s insurance. A contracted company inspects eligible homes and categorizes structural issues based on their severity (life-threatening, critical repairs, and unessential). The city housing committee then determines which home rehabilitations will be funded.

Louisville has also used $91,000 of its ARPA funds to supply retroactive premium pay for its 66 employees in gratitude for risking COVID-19 exposure while continuing to work in-person through the first year of the pandemic. In effect, all paid personnel received a retroactive $1-per-hour raise for a year – this included sanitation workers, volunteer firefighters, and all other employees on the City of Louisville’s payroll. 

Per Mayor Jenny Smith: “[City of Louisville] employees worked through COVID and put themselves at risk. Particularly we wanted to highlight the volunteer firefighters. They had to go into people's homes. It was a way to give them a little bit of a financial reward for the risk they took during that time frame."

A sign indicating that the home renovations were paid for by the City of Louisville using ARPA funds. (Source: City of Louisville)

A sign indicating that the home renovations were paid for by the City of Louisville using ARPA funds. (Source: City of Louisville)

Where?

Louisville is the located southwest of Augusta and is the county seat of Jefferson County. The city's population is 2,189.

When?

Applications for the first round of rehabilitation grants were closed on July 25th, 2021. As of January 2022, Building Up Louisville has repaired the roofs on 3 out of 16 homes scheduled for roof replacements. The city plans to expand the program’s services and begin taking bids for electrical and plumbing repairs in summer 2022.

Why?

Much of Louisville’s limited existing housing stock is rapidly aging. City officials hope that repairs to existing housing stock will prevent them from joining the list of 71 abandoned or blighted buildings. Aging residents often don’t have the income to be able to make critical yet costly repairs – a new roof can cost upwards of $10,000, for example.

Per City Planner Julianne Harper: “We’ve been really concerned about housing for a long time in Louisville, both the lack of it and the prevalence of dilapidated housing… We’ve been wanting to improve it and have applied for grants in the past. We were really grateful that we finally got funds with more flexibility that we can use how we wanted.”

Another home that received roof repairs through the Build Up Louisville housing rehabilitation grant program. (Source: City of Louisville)

Another home that received roof repairs through the Build Up Louisville housing rehabilitation grant program, with additional renovations to come. (Source: City of Louisville)

City Contact

Jenny Smith, Mayor: mayorsmith@louisvillega.gov, 478-377-0456

Ricky Sapp, City Administrator: rsapp@louisvillega.gov

Mr. Sapp in response to GMA's survey: "These funds are an extremely valuable asset to our community to accomplish projects that otherwise would have not been possible."

Media reporting