#StoptheWestEndTIF
from Activating

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Residents are pushing back to #StoptheTIF  

If the West End TIF district is activated, wealthy developers will be able to use West End property taxes for 20 years to make it cheaper and easier for them to build homes and rental properties for affluent future residents. This gentrification of the West End will inflate the cost of living beyond what is affordable for many current residents, inevitably forcing them to leave. Tens of thousands are expected to be displaced or dispossessed of their property based on their annual income alone. Renters and property owners making at or under $35,000 annual median income are most vulnerable to displacement and dispossession. Residents and allies are rallying together to fight back!

 

Below you will find our on-going interview series with West End Residents and quick 15min video that explains what is happening and how residents will be impacted.

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Media Coverage

Courier-Journal - 'Reverse white flight': Some fear West End TIF development plan will force out residents - by Krista Johnson and Morgan Watkins - November 24,2021

WFPL -“We’re funding this gentrification effort”: West End residents oppose planned TIF - bRoberto Roldan - October 5, 2021

Leo Weekly - West End Residents, Allies Launch Campaign Against TIF District Plans - August 21, 2021

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My name is Mariel. 

I am the owner of 5th Element Farms in the Parkland neighborhood in the West End of Louisville. I grow produce on a vacant lot I purchased from the city in 2018 through the Cut it Keep it Program. I’ve had more than a few access to land issues with the Landbank but most notably is my experience in 2020 with a city employee inviting me to a breakfast meeting of in his words “like minded investors seeking to build out blocks” in the California neighborhood. As it turns out he was looking for MARIO not Mariel and his voice command technology text me by mistake. This was the 2nd time this city employee called me looking for Mario. I’ve been trying to purchase city owned land to increase my grow space and have been met with constant denials. Having already purchased a lot through cut it Keep It, Id only be eligible to buy the lots I want from the landbank if I build a structure on them. Im not looking for blocks of land, my goal is to grow enough food to stock the food pantry at the other end of the block and I need more land to be successful. There are more than 600 parcels of vacant land in the city Landbank and they seem to be offering them up to investors and developers with eggs on a platter at Cracker Barrel while dismissing the usefulness of land to solve problems like hunger.

What bothers me about the TIF or WEOP is that it is disguised as help to heal racial injustice.  Help that can only be delivered as an increase in our property values through development. Not through the development of our individual property but development that subsidizes folks who already have enough money to build whatever they want where ever they want. The authors of this legislation have placed more value in the buildings we call home than in the people who live inside. If they valued us as people and were trying to show us how long over due equity and justice are they would legislate closing the racial and gender pay gaps.  They would be offering tax subsidies to us and not to hotel developers. They would be removing the pollutants from our air and not fining orchards and pollinator gardens for tall grass and weeds. The authors of this legislation are politicians builders, bankers and lawyers who could offer opportunity to the West End everyday when they go to work. Suddenly we should believe that they are be entrusted with millions more of our tax dollars to do what they already aren’t doing in their current roles. I don’t believe what they say because I see what they do.

And you see what they do too. I have listened to stories from other Louisvillians about the unwanted development of high rises in their neighborhoods, I’ve heard friends and residents complain about being ignored and dismissed by government officials. We watched the erasure of Clarksdale to make way for Nulu. The destruction of farmland in rural Jefferson County to build suburbs. The closure of local businesses in exchange for big box stores. Louisville is not isolated in this space. The same thing is happening throughout our state. Like in Somerset a TIF is being established to build the University of Somerset. The City of Somerset purchased a group of homes called Cundiff Square and evicted residents from their homes knowing full well The University was set to be built there. Or the TIF in Morehead that demolished an entire neighborhood called NorthFork this year. Those folks were evicted from their homes to make room for a strip mall. How many of us will be displaced to build new strip malls or the expand a university?  How many of us will be dispossessed of our land when our property taxes are raised beyond what we can afford? I don't know which is worse that our leaders formulated these plans in the middle of a pandemic when so many of us are struggling emotionally and suffering financially or that they think they can get away with it. Lets not let them get away with it this time. Sign the HBN Stop the West End TIF petition and stand in solidarity with your fellow Kentuckians. Share the video you just watched with your network and help us hold these folks accountable.

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Learn about how this TIF is connected to other TIFs across the state of KY. Follow this KY Tenants' Oped Series.

This campaign launched with the following address....

In this public address to the Louisville Accelerator Team conducting the American Rescue Plan public comment review process, Metro Council community partners, Mayor Greg Fischer’s Administration, and Louisville residents, we, members of the Historically Black Neighborhood Assembly, urge you not to support or fund any proposals from neither OneWest nor the West End Opportunity Partnership. 

The West End TIF is a state law written by wealthy developers, Craig Greenberg and Steve Poe (founder of OneWest), and other affiliates at OneWest. It has created a huge nonprofit development corporation, West End Opportunity Partnership, which (if the law is activated) will be endowed with our property tax dollars, under the sole guidance of a board of primarily non-residents who all represent organizations that have huge investments in real estate. This nonprofit corporation will be created and then funded using our property tax dollars—that typically would go to fund our schools and libraries—to instead make it cheaper and easier for themselves and other wealthy developers to rapidly gentrify the West End. 

This corporation will feed on our property tax dollars BUT exist outside of government control and democratic process. It will be able to use our property tax dollars, apply for loans and grants, and absorb proportions of those funds at its own discretion—like a fat tick—alongside directly funding the development projects of wealthy and affluent organizations within the board’s network. Further still, all of this will happen devoid of meaningful leadership from our residents. The West End Advisory Council (council of 9 neighborhoods) they plan to create, would effectively be a focus group for market research, because the West End TIF bill only requires the board to “communicate with the advisory council... to seek specific knowledge about the community,---aside from also requiring them to participate in a “board-sanctioned training program on the topics of community and economic development, finance, equity and community engagement, gentrification, and the implications of these concepts.”

Please understand that we have a responsibility to our base. The poor and working class residents living in and outside of Historically Black Neighborhoods make up the majority of Louisville’s Black population. We know that because of census data. According to the Census Bureau, there are more Black households in Louisville making under $35,000 than making over $50,000. The writers of the West End TIF bill know all too well that, “Fifty percent (50%) of households within the [West End] have an annual gross income of less than twenty-five thousand one hundred thirty dollars ($25,130)...,” which means that half of West End residents are at greater risk of gentrification simply due to the approval of this West End TIF bill. Based on that knowledge, if this bill is allowed to activate at least fifty percent (50%) of residents currently living in the West End may inevitably be forced out of their homes due to loss of their properties through code and law enforcement, forced foreclosure, acquisition by the courts, etc, or from inability to pay rising rents or property taxes. The West End TIF law will banish poor and working class residents into inevitable further mass houselessness, incarceration, and—for some—death.  

We do not support the funding of any initiative connected with this TIF. Furthermore, we again urge you not to support or fund any proposals from neither OneWest nor the West End Opportunity Partnership. 

Sincerely,

Members of the HBN Assembly

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