Habitat for Humanity – great idea, wrong place

Like Norton Commons, Habitat for Humanity’s new housing on the former Lake Louisvilla site is a great idea in the wrong place. And once again, Fischer was there to celebrate the ribbon cutting of yet another mistake.  Sure, many Louisville citizens need more affordable housing. But remote new subdivisions, affordable or pricey, are errors. The remote subdivision perpetuates a car dependency that sabotages any attempt to address climate change. That same car dependency is an expense which people with low incomes cannot afford. One unexpected car breakdown can isolate them in their remote subdivision, sending them in a spiral featuring the loss of job, home and even family.

The Habitat Lake Louisvilla subdivision is not serviced by TARC. Public transit is not an option for these low income residents. This is not an argument to extend TARC further, it is already spread too thin. TARC routes should service a smaller urban geography making it possible for urban citizens to live independent of cars.

The new Scholar House at Riverport made the same mistake. Both organizations stress the proximity to jobs. Interestingly, Riverport Scholar House is nowhere near UL, JCTC, Spalding, or Simmons. The job proximity seems to trump the proximity to school. And the jobs are low paying. I met with Habitat personnel in 2010 cautioning them against providing cheap labor to remote business. The seventeenth century Portuguese provided cheap labor to remote economies, slaves to the new world plantations. This is a role TARC should also be wary of. Those remote employers either need to pay their employees more, or provide transportation for their employees.

New remote subdivisions destroy farms, fields, forests and floodplains. They create more need for surface parking lots generating urban heat and flooding. They drain public resources (sewers, roads, and waterlines) and investment that are needed in other areas, the west end being one of those.Fischer Habitat




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