Affordable housing divides new town residents Jefferson County, Kentucky


Norton Commons town center

Norton Commons plan


When affordable housing is proposed, controversy often follows—especially in the suburbs. Norton Commons, a new town development outside of Louisville, Kentucky, aspires to a broad range of incomes in a walkable, mixed-use community.

Twenty-one three-bedroom multifamily homes were recently proposed for households with incomes between $28,000 and $44,000. The proposal has divided neighbors in the relatively affluent area—some publicly support it, others strongly oppose it.

“I earned the right to be out here, and now suddenly somebody is going to be put out here because they are what they are,” said one resident in a report of the public radio station WFPL. He characterized affordable housing as a “freebie.”

Another resident welcomes the lower-income families. “I think that what defines a person is not their square footage, or their bank account or what car they drive, but how they live their life day to day,” he said.

The affordable units are subsidized by a revolving loan program that was established with the support of Louisville Mayor  Greg Fischer. Norton Commons sits on the edge of Jefferson County, where the county seat is Louisville. Backing away from the affordable housing might leave the government open to legal challenges, one expert was quoted as saying.

“She warned that fighting the development could lead to fiscal and social burdens for Norton Commons residents and city government. Louisville Metro government and the Kentucky Housing Corporation have submitted letters of commitment for financing the project. Revoking such commitments could lead to violations of fair housing laws, Hinko said.”

A resident pointed out the community has always aspired to diversity. “Since its inception, the Norton Commons Master Plan calls for an inclusive, mixed-use community,” he said.