The Metropolitan Government’s latest survey of Jefferson County residents shows growing gaps in meeting their basic needs.
Over 1,550 people responded this year’s survey — that’s almost twice as many participants as in 2021. The assessment collected residents’ demographics, incomes and education levels. He also asked them to what extent they could access the basic resources essential to their well-being.
The Louisville Metro Office of Resilience and Community Services uses this data to shape budgets, policies, and requests for federal funding. Sam Clausi, who oversees this process, presented this year’s findings to the Jefferson County Community Action Council last week.
She said respondents’ overall priority was housing.
“Slightly less than 43% of Jefferson County renters are cost overburdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on rent,” Clausi said. “Nearly 21% of tenants spend at least 50% of their income on rent, which means they are heavily burdened by costs. And we know that the lack of affordable housing plays a role in this.
Louisville is in dire need of housing that is affordable enough for residents with the lowest incomes. To fill the void, the city needs over 31,000 unitswhose development would cost more than 3.5 billion dollars.
After housing, survey responses showed that residents said their top needs include support services and employment. But secondary priorities are different for low-income residents who earn $15,000 or less per year.
“Housing remains the priority. But employment came second and income and asset building third,” Clausi said, adding that access to financial advice was a trending concern for low-income residents.
Clausi said the city should prioritize investing in eviction prevention, assistance with public services and programs to help residents achieve financial stability.
“We should also focus our resources on [living-wage] employment…as well as education while providing comprehensive services and removing financial barriers to things like childcare, transportation,” Clausi said.
In the past, the city has developed goals in response to these surveys, including:
- Creation of a center for the analysis of barriers, particularly in terms of access to housing assistance, the prevention of evictions and assistance with public services
- Reduce the rate of homeless residents to a level below that of peer cities
- Helping more people transition to permanent housing
Tamika Laird, director of the Office of Resilience and Community Services, said the pandemic has caused the city to focus on crisis response – and to focus on preventing evictions, renting and assisting public services. She said officials remember these efforts this year due to lack of funding. Instead, they will try to tackle the affordable housing crisis.
“Our overall approach is to really focus on the actual recovery and then look at that in terms of more education and engagement in our community around all of these efforts,” Laird said.
Since this month, the city is stop accepting rental assistance applications. In March, Governor Andy Beshear allocated millions of dollars in federal relief from the state reserve to Louisville. But the city used that money for pending requests for assistance.
The city is working on an updated strategic plan with goals to meet the changing needs of residents. An RCS spokesperson said it should be released this week.