Kentucky Urban Reclamation Program
On November 2, 2000, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo presented the 2000 National Trust/HUD Secretary's Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation to the City of Covington, Kentucky, for their Urban Reclamation Program, at the 2000 National Preservation Conference in Los Angeles, California.
The award recognizes excellence in advancing the goals of historic preservation while providing affordable housing and expanded economic opportunities, particularly for low- and moderate-income people. This is the third year the award has been given.
The City of Covington Urban Reclamation Program enables the city to acquire vacant, dilapidated buildings, most of which are in the city's National Register Historic District, and to sell them to new owners who rehabilitate the properties. The city may assist with partial financing. To date, the program's total cost to the city has been $687,000. Properties sold through the program are worth almost $10 million. Reclamation of vacant properties has become an integral part of the city's community development efforts.
The City of Covington began the Urban Reclamation Program in the early 1980s. A few years later, the voluntary nature of property acquisitions was expanded to include foreclosure actions for unpaid taxes and liens. Local Community Development Block Grants and HOME funds and, where appropriate, Federal historic tax credits, have assisted these projects. The city's proactive approach in the pursuit of vacant properties for resale to new owners has substantially improved the properties throughout the city.
As a result of the program, the increase in property value is accompanied by an increase in payroll taxes from jobs created relative to these properties. Also, hundreds of affordable housing units (apartments and owner-occupied homes) in over 134 buildings have been created.
The City of Covington's Urban Reclamation Program works in tandem with local community planning efforts. The city's entire downtown and surrounding neighborhoods are currently part of the Central Covington Development Plan, which provides for design review and encourages revitalization. Two nearby neighborhoods are protected by similar plans developed with citizen involvement. The focus of both plans is neighborhood revitalization. The city uses historic preservation as a primary housing and economic development tool.