Beecher Terrace is a public housing site owned by the Louisville Metro Housing Authority (LMHA), located in the Russell neighborhood in long-underserved West Louisville, Kentucky. Despite decades of federal programs and local interventions, the families of Beecher Terrace have suffered from unacceptable economic, education and health inequities.
In 2015, LMHA was awarded a Choice Neighborhoods planning grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the Beecher Terrace public housing development and the Russell neighborhood. Supported by the grant, the People Plan was implemented to provide high-quality resources needed to systematically eradicate disparities and create in their place, a belief in a better future.
Urban Strategies Inc. (USI) was chosen to serve as the lead for the People Plan Implementation Team, with support from LMHA case managers, relocation staff and outside organizations that act as direct service providers. The vision of the People Plan is to create equitable opportunities where all Russell neighborhood/Beecher Terrace children and families are stable and thriving; where all voices are acknowledged and promoted; and all systems are positively aligned and equally contributing. USI and LHMA are working toward this vision through the following initiatives.
In 2020, LMHA created the position of Digital Inclusion Coordinator to manage and grow its computer refurbishment program, connect residents to low- or no-cost internet and coordinate digital training for residents. In collaboration with USI, LMHA provided refurbished MacBook Pros to graduating seniors from Beecher Terrace.
Both USI and LMHA provide comprehensive, wraparound case management for families. While USI primarily assists those residing in Beecher Terrace by providing referrals for any need they may have, including emergency services, educational programming, employment opportunities, LMHA offers support for anyone who resides in public housing. Additionally, residents can access financial literacy courses about budgeting, credit recovery and related topics.
Transforming Non-School Places
Through the Book Rich Environment/Russell Reads program, LMHA and USI distributed over 10,000 books to underprivileged youth in the Russell neighborhood and beyond. This has improved the number of families who are reading to children in the home, going from 86% to 97% over the course of the past five years.
Parents Succeeding in Their Own Journey Toward Sustainable Self-Sufficiency
During 2021, LMHA served 201 parents in its Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program. FSS participants receive intensive case management services (from one or both agencies), financial literacy education, and assistance in returning to school and finding and maintaining employment. As FSS participants increase their earned income, money is added to an escrow savings account.
Additionally, LMHA has awarded college scholarships to its residents. In 2021, eight parents of school-aged children and seven recent high school graduates each received a $1,500 scholarship.
Lastly, USI hosts monthly resident meetings that provide residents with a platform to voice concerns surrounding their community and that connect residents to supportive services.
Louisville taps into community partnerships to advance additional areas of focus around early school success and equitable learning recovery, including developmental screenings for young children, enrollment in kindergarten readiness and early learning programs, and out-of-school learning activities.
By providing greater access to service providers (beginning at birth and continuing through high school) that meet residents where they are, Louisville aims to close the educational equity gap between Beecher Terrace/Russell neighborhood youth and their peers. When a disadvantaged child is provided with consistent educational support, the trajectory of their life changes. Ultimately, their entire community is impacted.