Celebrating its 180th year, Covington, Kentucky, values its many residential and commercial structures that have historic and/or architectural significance. However, its lower housing prices and proximity to the expanding Cincinnati, Ohio, metropolitan area have made Covington a densely populated city that has little room for growth. Covington also must contend with the challenges of increasing crime, deteriorating infrastructure, and growing needs among its low-income residents.
The city's Consolidated Plan has a budget of $2.3 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, $506,000 in HOME Investment Partnership (HOME) Program funds, and $84,000 in Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG).
As the lead agency responsible for developing the Consolidated Plan, Covington's Housing Development Department met with 26 city administrative departments, public and private agencies, social service providers, civic organizations, special interest groups, and individual citizens. Working in cooperation with the Housing Authority of Covington (HAC), the Housing Development Department held a public hearing so that citizens could comment on housing and community development needs. In addition to publicizing the hearing in the Kentucky Post, the city mailed announcements to approximately 700 citizens, including 500 public housing residents.
HAC further encouraged citizen participation by forming a Comprehensive Grant Program Partnership Process Planning Group, which sponsored resident input meetings held at each of HAC's four sites.
Between 1980 and 1990, the population of Covington declined from 49,563 to 43,264. This decrease occurred primarily among the white population. In 1990 whites comprised 91 percent of the total population; African Americans comprised just under 8 percent; and other minorities comprised approximately 1 percent.
In 1990 more than one-third of all households were very low-income. Among white households, the very-low income were 36 percent, versus 66 percent of African-American households. More than half of all households were low-income, earning less than 80 percent of the median family income.
The 1990 census indicated that the elderly constitute the fastest growing population group in Covington. During the past 4 years, the number of very low-income elderly households increased by 78 percent.
The city's infrastructure is deteriorating because of its age. Although a recent State law allowed the city to relinquish ownership and maintenance of its sewers to the Kenton County Sanitation District, a survey indicated that at least $3 million would be needed to upgrade the sewer system to meet acceptable standards. Because much of the city's public streets and sidewalks are older, they also need improvement.
The most significant characteristic of Covington's housing stock is its age. More than 58 percent of all housing units were built before 1939. Many units in the northern half of the city are more than 100 years old. Although an abundant supply of homes is available, the age of these homes often creates rehabilitation costs that are higher than the actual purchase price.
The 1990 census reported that 9 percent of all units were vacant. The majority of these were rental units, and 228 were owner occupied. Overall, 4 percent of the vacant units were considered substandard.
Although the southern half of the city has been more recently developed, little land is available for new construction. When the southernmost section of the city was annexed 20 years ago, the ensuing rapid development was targeted to entry-level homebuyers who could afford homes that cost between $70,000 and $80,000. Recent development in this area has resulted in the construction of higher-priced homes that cost between $100,000 and $150,000.
The cost of a single-family home varies throughout the city. Although the price for a home ranges from $20,000 to $300,000, the majority of homes cost between $40,000 and $65,000. The cost of rental housing also varies, with the median rent for one- and two-bedroom units ranging from $300 to $500 per month.
The 1990 census reported that 15,506 housing units were occupied by very low- and low-income households. The city estimated that only 35 percent of their housing needs were being met.
Among rental units, median rents increased by an estimated 70 percent, while renters' median incomes increased by only 40 percent. Approximately 45 percent of renters and 22 percent of homeowners spent more than 25 percent of their income for housing. The city estimated that 73 percent of small-family renters had cost burdens, paying more than 30 percent of their gross income for housing expenses. Furthermore, 343 large-family renter households and 1,072 elderly renter households had cost burdens, paying more than 30 percent for housing.
Many of the city's homeowners are low- and very low-income elderly persons, who face increasing maintenance burdens. Overall, 1,232 owner households had cost burdens, paying more than 30 percent for housing.
A 1993 survey identified 370 homeless persons within the city's jurisdiction. Of this number, 114 were males; 119 were females; and 137 were children. The majority were white; 71 were African American; 6 were Hispanic; and 4 were Native American. In the special needs category, 103 had alcohol or drug abuse problems; 72 were victims of domestic violence; 22 had severe mental illness; and 4 had HIV/AIDS.
Covington has 13 agencies that provide services to the homeless, including: Fairhaven Rescue Mission, Homeward Bound Runaway Shelter, Storehouse Ministries, Transitions Inc., Welcome House, Women's Crisis Center, Parish Kitchen, Interfaith Hospitality Network of Northern Kentucky, Comprehensive Care Center of Northern Kentucky, Northern Kentucky Housing and Homeless Coalition, Anawim Housing, Inc., Brighton Center, Inc., and Be Concerned.
To provide the homeless with a continuum of care, the city has enacted the following strategies:
HAC manages 963 public housing units. Of these, 137 are studio units; 215 have one bedroom; 371 have two bedrooms; 208 have three bedrooms; and 32 have 4 or more bedrooms. Currently, 53 of these units are vacant. HAC also operates 41 handicapped-accessible Section 504 units.
Covington's Housing Development Department administers the Section 8 program all of Kenton County, which includes 1,075 assisted units. Of this number, 913 were tenant-based certificates; 117 were vouchers; and 45 were moderate rehabilitation units. The city does not expect to lose any Section 8 units from the assisted housing inventory during the 1995-1996 program year.
Located in the city are 1,060 other assisted units, including 766 Section 202 and Section 8 efficiency and one-bedroom units reserved for the elderly. Another 55 units are one-bedroom handicapped-accessible units. Currently, only 9 units are vacant.
The city has identified the following barriers to affordable housing:
The 1990 census reported that of 19,117 housing units, 12,833 contained lead-based paint. The highest percentages of elevated blood-lead levels were found in the downtown area, where most of the older housing stock was concentrated.
Between April 1, 1993, and January 31, 1995, the Northern Kentucky Independent District Health Department's blood screening program documented 3,513 cases of elevated blood-lead levels.
The elderly constitute the fastest growing population group in Covington. Senior Citizens of Northern Kentucky estimates that 31 elderly persons in Covington need supportive housing and that 25 of these are frail elderly. The United Way reports that more affordable housing as well as repair and maintenance also are needed.
An estimated 160 persons in Covington have long-term mental illnesses that create various housing problems. In addition to housing problems associated with mental illness, these people have housing problems because of their low incomes. Furthermore, these people need some form of supportive services.
An estimated 50 persons are physically disabled and need supportive housing. Currently, 104 handicapped-accessible units are available, and some agencies are providing supportive services.
An estimated 140 to 150 individuals are developmentally disabled. Of this total, 112 require supportive services and cannot achieve self-sufficiency. The remaining 25 percent can achieve self-sufficiency but require supportive services to complete the transition to permanent housing.
Transitions, Inc., estimates that nearly 400 persons with substance abuse problems need supportive housing. The needs of this population include housing for children as well as treatment and counseling for adults.
The Northern Kentucky Independent District Health Department HIV/AIDS Prevention and Management Program reports that an estimated 10 persons with HIV/AIDS -- 25 percent of all non-homeless persons with HIV/AIDS -- need supportive housing services, ranging from minimum to total care.
Covington's Section 8 Program estimates that at least 575 low-income female-headed households would benefit from supportive housing, which would offer services, such as medical and child care, counseling, education, and job training.
Covington identifies the following community development needs:
Covington identifies the following housing priorities:
Covington identifies the following community development priorities:
To adequately meet the needs of those persons living below the poverty level, Covington has implemented the following antipoverty strategies:
The Consolidated Plan uses resources from many sectors, such as public agencies and departments as well as nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Public service agencies include: the Northern Kentucky Community Center, Covington Community Center, and the Northern Kentucky Arts Council. These organizations use CDBG funds to expand their fundraising capacities and to meet United Way or foundation funding requirements.
The HOME homebuyer assistance activity, which promotes homeownership among low- and moderate-income households, is possible only because local banks and savings and loan associations cooperate with the city to provide these prospective homeowners with mortgage loans.
State and local funds often are used to complement city activities. City-sponsored recreational activities are held in Covington Public School buildings after school and on weekends. These facilities may be used free of charge because the city's general fund absorbs the cost of staff employed by these programs.
Other essential nonprofit organizations include: Northern Kentucky Association for the Retarded, Interfaith Hospitality Council, Jacob's Well, Homeward Bound Runaway Shelter, Storehouse Ministries, Parish Kitchen, Transitions, Inc., and Habitat for Humanity.
The city collaborates with HAC to implement the Consolidated Plan. The city and HAC have been co-applicants for several Drug Elimination Grants. These have resulted in the construction of a youth center next to the Jacob Price Homes .
Additional coordination is accomplished through the city's close relationship with approximately a dozen local nonprofit social service providers. A wide range of services are provided to senior citizens, youth, the homeless, and low- and moderate-income citizens with special needs.
Covington will implement the following key projects during the first year of the Consolidated Plan:
Covington identifies the following housing goals during the next 5 years:
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 projects within another of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.
MAP 9 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded project(s) from a street level vantage point; in addition; in addition, a table provides information about the project(s).