Situated in Boyd County, Kentucky, the city of Ashland is a small community that has been affected by several national trends. A rising unemployment rate, declining population, and deteriorating housing stock and infrastructure are due, in part, to a major recession. As a result, the city must rebuild its existing infrastructure to provide improved living conditions and a better quality of life for its residents.
The Consolidated Plan for Ashland has a budget of $884,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. The plan also incorporates $772,993 in prior year's funding with $10,000 in program income.
The planning, implementation, and assessment of the city of Ashland Community Development Program offered extensive opportunity for citizen participation. Emphasis was placed on the role of citizen input in the development of programs and copies of grant information were available for public review.
The Ashland Urban Renewal and Community Development Agency, which acted as a citizen advisory committee, held a public meeting that was advertised in the local Daily Independent. Notices were distributed to the Ashland Ministerial Association and other churches and organizations of minority congregations. An additional public hearing on the "Grantee Performance Report" provided citizens with updated information on the progress of the plan.
Concerned organizations, including area banks, adjacent units of local government, real estate offices, service organizations, and local churches, responded to a Department of Planning and Community Development survey about housing, homelessness, and community development needs.
Located on the Ohio River in the northeastern corner of the State, Ashland is a city within a tri-state Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). This MSA includes Huntington, West Virginia; Ironton, Ohio; and surrounding counties.
Ashland's population has been steadily declining since 1960, when the population was 31,283. In 1993 Ashland's population was 25,000. The majority of its residents are white. Minority groups make up only 3 percent of Ashland's population with African Americans comprising 2 percent and other groups accounting for 1 percent of the population.
Of the total population:
Although most (96 percent) of low-income persons are white, most minorities are very low-income. All Hispanics, 66 percent of Native-Americans, and 33 percent of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are very low-income. Within the African-American population, 68 percent are low- or very low-income. While two-thirds of the Asian-American and Pacific Islander populations are in the lower income categories, this is true only for one-third of the Native-American or African-American populations. Most low-income households are concentrated in the East Central Avenue Neighborhood, the Pollard Road Neighborhood, and the Simpson Road area.
Unemployment has increased with recent downsizing of major employers in the Ashland area, particularly the steel mills.
The deteriorating condition of the existing housing stock is the most prevalent problem in Ashland. The city estimates that 25 percent of the existing housing stock needs rehabilitation. The majority of these are owner-occupied units. Nearly 30 percent of Ashland's housing units were built prior to 1960 and another 24 percent were built between 1960 and 1979. Very few new units been constructed because of a lack of available land. The few new units that have been constructed are luxury units.
The lack of suitable land available for new construction has forced many homeowners to improve or expand their existing homes rather than build new ones. Median value of housing in Ashland was $43,800, lower than the State median of $50,500 and significantly lower than the national median. The 1990 local median rent of $218 was also lower than that of the State and the Nation.
Census data for 1990 found a slight decline in housing units in Ashland, from 11,346 in 1980 to 11,021. This decline has been attributed to the conversion of housing units for commercial use, demolition for commercial use, and urban renewal. More than 27 percent of the units are considered substandard and in need of rehabilitation. Almost 32 percent of the units are rentals, with about half considered assisted housing.
More than 800 homeowners and nearly 400 renter families pay more than 30 percent of their household income for housing. Very low-income homeowners experience greater cost problems than any other very low-income group. Without city assistance, they may be unable to maintain their housing. Nearly half of the very low-income households are elderly persons.
In 1995 a 1-day count identified 38 homeless persons. One-third of those homeless were victims of domestic violence.
There are many others who are on the verge of becoming homeless. Community Action Referral Service assisted 369 families with emergency utility payments. The threat of homelessness is particularly difficult to measure in eastern Kentucky because strong family ties allow people who would otherwise be homeless to live with relatives. Often this is not reported because families fear losing financial assistance because of unreported household members.
Among the facilities that provide services to the homeless population are the Shelter of Hope, Safe Harbor, Salvation Army, CAReS Referral Service, and Community Kitchen. These service agencies have a total of 50 beds. Interviews with these providers found several gaps in housing services. They include:
Two public housing agencies manage the city's public housing and Section 8 programs. The Ashland Public Housing Program has two conventional facilities with a total of 386 units. These include Scope Towers for elderly citizens and DeBord Terrace Apartments for 111 families.
The Ashland Community Development Agency Public Housing Authority operates 335 units under Section 8 programs in the city. These units are primarily single-family and duplex structures. There are 211 families waiting to get in the Section 8 program. The waiting list is at least 2 years, with two- and three-bedroom units closed for those who do not meet a Federal preference criterion. Each public housing agency has its own waiting list and the two are not coordinated.
The Consolidated Plan for Ashland identified the following barriers to the production of affordable housing:
The Ashland Human Rights Commission will receive support services and technical assistance to help provide activities that lessen discrimination in housing and hiring practices.
A total of 1,717 low-income households in Ashland may have lead-based paint hazards. The Boyd County Health Department has reported only three cases of elevated blood-lead levels in the county. Lead-based paint hazards have been decreasing in Ashland because of the demolition or rehabilitation of older homes.
The Department of Planning and Community Development follows Federal requirements with regard to the inspection, reduction, and abatement of lead-based paint hazards in connection with rehabilitation on federally assisted housing.
Because elderly persons make up almost half of Ashland's very low-income households, the city is focusing on the need for services and housing for the elderly. In addition to the Boyd County Senior Center, Ashland has 434 subsidized housing units for the elderly and an additional 277 nursing home beds.
Pathways, a local human services provider, estimates there are approximately 100 long-term mentally ill clients in Boyd County. Many of these clients live in very poor housing conditions. Pathways operates a 15-bed, single-room occupancy facility and an apartment complex with another 15 one-bedroom units with supportive services for the developmentally disabled.
There are no housing units for persons with HIV/AIDS because the number of identified cases in Boyd County is very small.
Ashland's accessible public housing units are underused. Project managers report that physically handicapped residents do not want such units, though social service agencies report a need for greater handicapped accessibility.
The Consolidated Plan Survey of Ashland identified economic development, especially job creation and retention, as the community's most important overriding need. The following also were identified as important community development needs:
The Department of Planning and Community Development monitors the progress of the Consolidated Plan.
The mission of Ashland's Community Development Policies Plan is to increase the amount of adequate housing, encourage self-sufficiency, and provide community improvements for the city's low- to moderate-income population through the innovative and effective use of funds.
The Consolidated Plan identified the following housing priorities:
The Consolidated Plan identified the following community development priorities:
The city of Ashland developed an antipoverty strategy that:
A local financial institution has committed $3 million in loan funds for low-income homebuyers in the city. The city intends to apply for State funds, but these were not mentioned in the plan since they are not guaranteed.
During 1994-1995, the city received a grant of $50,000 from the State Emergency Shelter Grant Program, which has been allocated to Shelter of Hope, Safe Harbor, and CAReS. CAReS used funds for homelessness prevention, while the Shelter of Hope and Safe Harbor used their portion to rehabilitate their facilities. Ashland plans to seek State HOME funds to acquire and rehabilitate a recently closed downtown motel for transitional housing for single persons. Several agencies have offered to assist in the operation of this facility. It also is possible that this site could serve as a central intake office.
The Consolidated Plan uses resources including support and services from organizations such as the FIVCO Area Development District, Community Action Referral Services, Hillcrest-Bruce Methodist Mission, Boyd County Youth Services Center, King's Daughters Medical Center, the Department of Social Insurance/Human Resources, Appalachian Foothills Agency, the First Baptist Church, and the Ashland Family Resource Center.
The Department of Planning and Community Development is the lead agency and works with the Ashland Public Housing Authority, the Urban Renewal and Community Development Agency, and the Ashland Community Development Public Housing Authority, to coordinate the Consolidated Plan. Monthly interagency meetings are sponsored by various organizations, such as CAReS, Social Services, the FIVCO Area Development District and the State Department of Local Government.
Among the key projects identified in the Consolidated Plan for Ashland were:
MAP 1 depicts points of interest in the jurisdiction.
MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income areas.
MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.
MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.
MAP 5 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 6 is a map, sectioned by neighborhood, which depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 7 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within one of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.
MAP 8 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded project(s) from a street level vantage point; in addition, a table provides information about the project(s).