The Louisville Scholar House in Louisville, KY has won a 2010 Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Award in the Special Needs Housing category.

Photo Courtesy of Family Scholar House, Inc.

In Louisville, Kentucky, neighbors are passionate about their communities.  They often require developers to prove how their proposed development will either breathe life back into a once-booming location or will compliment already reformed neighborhoods, upholding hard-won mended reputations.  Family Scholar House, Inc., embraced this challenge resulting in a completely leased building prior to the Grand Opening and a waiting list of more than 600 families. 

Louisville Scholar House is designed to meet the needs of 56 very low-income single-parent students and their children through a full-continuum of care that includes supportive housing, academic advising, case management, on-site childcare, workforce development, life skills training, and assistance with transportation and basic family needs.  Physically, all units employ universal design concepts, including an open floor plan ideal for families with young children.  Six units provide additional features for full accessibility and are in use by residents with physical limitations that require such accommodations.  Each unit is equipped with a refurbished computer with high-speed internet and voice over internet protocol (VoIP) communications at no cost to the resident. 

The VoIP system is linked to the Louisville Department of Public Safety allowing residents to receive all alerts sent to University of Louisville students, including weather warnings, cancellations, delayed schedules, crime alerts, etc.  The system also connects each emergency call from residents directly to the University of Louisville Department of Public Safety.  This is a critical benefit as 90 percent of the residents at Louisville Scholar House have past experiences with domestic violence and have the potential for their abusers to try to find their current residence. 

Louisville Scholar House provides comprehensive services to its residents.  All residents are required by the project-based subsidized housing lease agreement to be full-time college students.  Located within walking distance of the University of Louisville, the campus includes an Academic Services Center for both residents and non-residential families who rely on support while they wait for stable housing. Academic advising is provided on-site to support the educational goals of the residents.  Seventy-three percent of residents are first-generation college attendees with 40 percent indicating they are the first in their family to graduate high school.  Other on-site programs include Family Nutrition and Wellness workshops; a food pantry; the Toddler Book Club and Young Readers Club; Passport for Success, a literacy initiative designed to teach adults and children about other countries; and art therapy workshops. 

In addition to more than $7 million in Housing Credits, purchased by National City Bank, now a part of PNC Real Estate, the University of Louisville provided $1.5 million to fund and manage the Early Learning Campus programming.  Beyond the HOME and CDBG funding including in the project, the most unique source of financing has been private donations from the community.  One community member donated $250,000 to the project and opened his home to the residents hosting a graduation party for the first graduating class of residents.  Further donations ranging from $3.10 from a local school child to $1 million from other members of the community demonstrate the widespread support enjoyed by this development. The property was developed by Marian Development Group.