Stop the attacks on public housing

September 26, 2008

COVINGTON, Ky.-- Developers have been eyeing the Jacob Price public housing project in Covington, Ky.'s Eastside neighborhood for several years.

Despite two out every three residents stating that they would not like to be relocated and see their homes torn down, the gentrification of this neighborhood began in 2005. Jacob Price's 163 apartments are scheduled to be totally razed by 2010. Phase one of the project began in 2005, displacing some 20 to 26 units.

Jacob Price has provided affordable public housing to some 120 people for over 66 years. More importantly, Jacob Price and Covington's Eastside has historical and cultural significance to Northern Kentucky's Black community.

Phase 2 of the Jacob Price demolition began in June 2008. Residents were to receive a 90-day notice to move, but many were not even given the full 90 days. The city's plan for the displaced residents is a temporary move from Jacob Price to City Heights. City Heights housing project, like Jacob Price, is also scheduled to be demolished for "future plans."

Housing plans for residents after both public housing projects are razed are still "to be determined," according to the city.

Just a few blocks from Jacob Price is the Lincoln Grant Building, which was home to the now-defunct Northern Kentucky Community Center. The Community Center, located at 824 Greenup Street in Covington, provided crucial social services to the Eastside community such as health care, childcare and food programs. In 2003, the Center closed its doors due to lack of funding and escalating operating expenses.

With the Lincoln Building sitting vacant for five years, the city sold it to a Northern Kentucky developer, 824 Greenup LLC--one of the owners also sits on the board of Covington's Housing Authority--for an interest-free loan with no development restrictions.

Like many other poor and working-class neighborhoods that have been systematically under-funded, investors and developers looking to make a quick profit have targeted the Eastside of Covington. The plans for what will replace Jacob Price and the Lincoln Grant Center is "market rate housing."

In a recent meeting with the Eastside Neighborhood Association, Covington City Manager Jay Fossett told an audience of Jacob Price residents that the city had no public plans for use of either the historical Lincoln Grant Building or Jacob Price Homes.

"Market rate housing" has been a code word for no poor people, no people of color and unaffordable rent for the current residents. Residents of the Eastside and Jacob Price aren't taking these attacks on their neighborhood lightly. The groups Eastside Development Coalition and Students Together Against Racism at Northern Kentucky University are organizing to build support for the rights of tenants.

The future of Covington's Eastside will depend on residents and activists organizing to defend their neighborhood.

Akosua Favors and Ben Sea contributed to this article.

Further Reading

From the archives