Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Project's residents oppose razing it

City may replace Jacob Price homes

By William Croyle
Enquirer contributor

COVINGTON - The president of the city's Eastside Neighborhood Association says the group will fight to save the Jacob Price housing project from demolition.

"It hasn't been about what the residents want; it's what the outside people who don't live here want, and that's an insult," said President Bennie Doggett. "We don't want them telling us what should happen in our neighborhood."

More than 20 members of the neighborhood association unanimously voted last week to oppose razing the complex, which consists of 168 units on 6 acres. The idea to knock it down is being studied by the Housing Authority of Covington. Results are due in about a month.

"At this point in time it's just a study," said authority Executive Director Bill Simon. "We're waiting for the consultants to come back with what we can and cannot do."

The housing project was built in the 1930s. It is bordered by Robbins Street to the north, 11th Street to the south, Prospect Street to the east and Greenup Street to the west.

Residents pay rent based on their income. That money and a subsidy from the federal government cover the costs to maintain the units.

But Simon said the age of the units and rising costs have become a problem.

"What we're finding is the buildings themselves are becoming obsolete," Simon said. "The units are small and the utilities to maintain them are becoming costly to operate.

Barbara Watkins, 64, has lived in Jacob Price for 60 years.

"I'm comfortable here and can't afford to live anywhere else," said Watkins, who lives on Social Security and disability checks each month. "I don't want to move. This is my home."

Simon said if Jacob Price is razed, residents would be temporarily moved to other housing projects while new units would be built within the city.

The housing authority operates two other family developments - City Heights and Latonia Terrace. It also runs a senior citizens' high rise - Golden Tower - which is being renovated.

Simon said the federal government mandates that they find housing for anyone they displace. If Jacob Price is razed, Simon said it's at least a year away.

"I understand we're talking about people's homes. I do empathize with their reaction," said Simon. "We are looking at creating change that will be positive for them. We want to revitalize subsidized housing on the East Side."

That didn't make Norma Mabrey, 67, feel any better. She has lived in Jacob Price for 43 years.

"I don't want to move," Mabrey said. "We're going to fight this. They're not just going to push us out."


E-mail williamcroyle@yahoo.com

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