Help Us Report On The Coronavirus In Kentucky Tuesday, Apr 7 2020 

Students returning from regions where the virus is spreading are barred from campus.As the coronavirus outbreak continues to disrupt life here in Kentucky, WFPL and the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting will be here to keep you informed. To do that, we need your help.

The coronavirus is impacting everyone in Kentucky, so we want to hear from everyone.

  • Are you a medical professional fighting the coronavirus in a hospital, clinic or other medical facility?
  • Have you lost your job, and applied for benefits to make up for lost income?
  • Are you a small business owner?
  • Are you a government employee looking to discreetly share information?

Now more than ever, it is important that we hear as many experiences as possible. Filling out the form below will help the community better understand the coronavirus crisis. (It’s also linked here.)

None of the information you provide will be published without your permission. A reporter may follow up to speak with you and to find out more.

If you want to speak to a reporter anonymously on Signal messenger, reach us at 585-797-7368.

If you are sick or think you may have symptoms of COVID-19, please follow the instructions provided at https://govstatus.egov.com/kycovid19.

Louisville Officials Won’t Release Spending Records Amid Pandemic Tuesday, Apr 7 2020 

Louisville Metro Government officials are refusing to disclose documentation that would show how public money is being spent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting on March 31 requested all contracts, purchase orders and invoices recorded since March 6. In a response on Monday, city officials denied the request for documents that would shed light on government spending since Kentucky’s first coronavirus case, and Gov. Andy Beshear’s declaration of a state of emergency.

City officials said fulfilling the request for about three weeks of spending records would create an “unreasonable burden” on the government agency.

“The staff necessary to respond to this request are also devoted to assisting in the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic; thus, it would be a burden not only to them, but also to the residents of Louisville Metro relying on Metro’s work if they were to respond to this request at this time,” the response stated.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer last week said city officials had spent about $3 million in response to the pandemic, which includes costs for personnel and personal protective equipment and an expanded meals program for seniors. Specific details about those costs, and other governmental spending during the pandemic however, remain unknown.

Michael Abate, a Louisville attorney who specializes in First Amendment issues, said the public has the right to know how funds are spent even during the pandemic.

“Times like this require more transparency, not less, in order for people to have confidence in government,” he said. “It’s completely inappropriate for the city to just deny an Open Records Request because of the pandemic.”

Under state law, government agencies are required to make public records available for inspection upon request. The law does provide some exemptions for records that include personal information or those that could expose the government to terrorism, among others.

Normally, agencies have three business days to respond to records requests. That doesn’t mean the agency is expected to produce the records in three days — just that the agency needs to say whether it will fulfill the request and, if it’s granted, estimate how long it will take.

State legislators last month passed a measure to extend the timeframe an agency has to respond to a request amid the pandemic to 10 days.

Abate, who has represented KyCIR and other media outlets on public record issues, said the extension is a reasonable amendment to the state’s Open Records Act, given the spreading pandemic. But, he stressed, the law still stands and public agencies must comply.

“They can’t ignore their duties under the law, and tell people they can govern in secret,” Abate said.

A spokesperson for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fischer has long touted the city’s commitment to transparency and garnered national acclaim in 2013 when he ordered “public information to be open by default.” But an online database of spending records is outdated, the most recent records listed available are from the 2018 fiscal year.

And as the pandemic continues, city officials have demanded questions about the response come in the form of a formal records request.

But in the response to KyCIR’s request for spending records, city officials said the Louisville Metro Government processes thousands of invoices each month and the staff needed to fulfill the request are working remotely.

“Thus making it even more difficult to comply with such a broad request,” the officials said.

But the city’s claim that fulfilling the request would create an unreasonable burden on the agency is “pretty flimsy,” said Amye Bensenhaver, the director of the Kentucky Open Government Coalition.

Bensenhaver, a former attorney with the Attorney General’s open records division, pointed to a 2017 case in which the requester asked a university for any public records that referenced her by name as an example of one that posed an unreasonable burden.

Bensenhaver said courts have upheld that a request for public records cannot be considered an unreasonable burden simply because it requires added time or work to fulfill.

“They have to show the burden by clear and convincing evidence,” she said. “There’s nothing specific why this particular request poses a challenge.”

Spending records are oftentimes simple requests to fulfill because they are kept electronically and require little redaction, Bensenhaver said.

Some delays in fulfilling requests and provided records are expected and government agencies do deserve a bit of leniency as they work amid the spreading pandemic, she said.

But she said the leniency ends when an agency “erects an impenetrable barrier” by not honoring a request.

Contact Jacob Ryan at jryan@kycir.org.

Among Mayor’s State Of Emergency Powers: Amending Union Contracts Saturday, Apr 4 2020 

Some of Louisville’s public sector unions, and the workers they represent, are in wait-and-see mode after the city announced employees may be reassigned to help respond to the coronavirus pandemic.  

Mayor Greg Fischer signed an executive order on March 13, declaring a state of emergency. Under Kentucky state law, that grants him significant powers intended to help the city respond quickly to the pandemic. 

One of those powers is to amend or selectively enforce city contracts, including those with public sector unions. Louisville currently has 24 contracts with public unions, representing everyone from librarians to park workers to corrections officers to traffic guards. 

When Fischer extended the state of emergency on March 24, he laid out what that would mean for city employees: “Effective today, Louisville Metro agencies are hereby empowered to request or, as needed, require employees to work in other areas of their agencies or in other Louisville Metro agencies…while retaining their current rate of pay, benefits, and other rights according to their current Collective Bargaining Agreement and/or Louisville Metro policies.”

The order also increased the amount of time the city had to respond to union grievances. 

Metro government spokesperson Jean Porter said in an email that “the intent is to fill gaps as needed and use resources in line with the existing contract language.”

“It is not our intent to make any additional changes to the contract or place workers into roles outside the scope of their classification,” she wrote. “The contract language has not changed.”

Porter said some city employees have already been reassigned, mostly working with 311 and helping with meal distribution through the Department of Resilience and Community Services. 

Porter said it’s not an uncommon practice during states of emergency.

But to move employees around, the city may have to override aspects of otherwise sacrosanct union contracts. The city’s unions are preparing for what these changing requirements could mean for the workers they represent. Andrew Burcham, a lawyer and organizer with AFSCME, said he can’t remember a recent state of emergency where workers were reassigned in large numbers. 

Burcham works with Local 2629, which represents some parks, revenue, technology, zoo and corrections employees. He said he and leaders from other city unions were told about the mayor’s plans right before he announced them publicly. 

“It’s something we didn’t anticipate,” he said. “If there’s a flood or a tornado, things shut down differently. A pandemic just changes what the city needs from us.” 

AFSCME 3425, which represents library workers, declined to comment for the story. But in emails sent to union members, union leaders said it was “disturbing” to learn that aspects of union contracts could be waived amid the declaration of emergency.  

Other unions said they were not expecting to see their contracts impacted by the state of emergency declaration. 

“Anything is possible, but we fully expect them to honor the contract and we will do the same,” said Teamsters 783 President John Stovall, who represents EMS, public works employees and other workers. 

Morgain Patterson, director of municipal law for the Kentucky League of Cities, said cities have the right to temporarily amend these contracts amid an emergency. But she had not yet heard much discussion about governments doing so. 

Burcham said he is in touch with Metro Human Resources daily to sort out what this declaration means for the 1,000 workers he represents. He applauded Fischer for adopting the emergency paid sick leave policy, which grants 10 days paid time off for employees who develop coronavirus symptoms or are directed to self-quarantine. 

He said he believes Metro is working in good faith to protect the health of the city, and “our goal is never to make things harder.” 

But, he said, there’s a lot of fear and uncertainty as city employees continue to go to work — and await news of possible reassignment. 

“Our motivation is the health and safety of our workers,” he said, “and finding a way to make sure these people … have a safe way to provide for their families and not get sick.”

KyCIR spoke to more than 10 Metro employees represented by unions, almost all of whom didn’t want to be quoted or identified, about how this change is impacting them. Most were not aware before this declaration that Metro government had the right to amend their contracts during an emergency. 

Essential? Some Question

This declaration comes at a time when some city workers said they don’t feel Metro government has their backs. 

Several told KyCIR they have not received adequate communication from city officials about when or whether they might be redeployed to coronavirus-related jobs. So for now, most city employees are reporting to their normal jobs in-person every day, some doing work they believe is not essential amid the pandemic. 

At the city’s libraries, which closed to the public on March 14, employees are doing work they say is important — inventorying and providing upkeep to the library collections, program planning — but not particularly timely. The biggest public service they’re offering, they say, is answering phone calls, which could be done from home.

“Everyone is scared,” said a library employee, who asked not to be named to protect her job. “Once someone comes into work, and they’re a carrier, there’s no telling what’s going to happen to the rest of the employees. Being out when the governor has told us to be healthy at home — morale is pretty low around here.” 

While some library branches allow for adequate social distancing, others do not. She said keeping these buildings open and requiring people to come to work is a waste of the city’s limited resources — particularly cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer and protective equipment. A lot of employees take the TARC bus to work, and many are in a vulnerable population or live with people who are. 

She said they have been told that they cannot work from home, but have not been given a good reason as to why. 

“We would love to help the community. We would just like to do it safely, from home, with pay,” she said. “We could answer the unemployment line, we could be answering library questions. We could also be working on our own professional development.” 

Another library employee told KyCIR she is happy to come to work — it’s giving her a sense of normalcy — but she is very anxious about the prospect of being asked to transfer to another department.  

Others echoed that concern, saying they are happy to help out but do not want to be sent to a call center, or other location with new people, when all the guidance is to stay home.

“If I’m sent to another agency, that would just expand the number of people I’m interacting with,” said the library employee, who also asked not to be named to protect her job. “That’s the last resort, if the choice is between going to another agency or going to furlough and not getting paid.”

That’s the other, equally serious, fear among city employees — that if they push too hard about their work being non-essential right now, that they’ll be furloughed or laid off. 

Porter said in an email that there is plenty of work. 

“This is an evolving situation, but at this time, we are not furloughing or laying off,” she wrote. 

City employees say all of this has left them stuck between a rock and a hard place — but mostly, for now, just stuck. They’re going to work every day, waiting to see how this all shakes out. The unions that represent them are in the same position. 

Under the law, when the crisis has passed, any contract language changed during the state of emergency would be reinstated. 

“And then we go back to business as usual — or as usual as it will be by then,” said Burcham. “We’ll be there, helping Louisville to pick back up the pieces.” 

Louisville In Flux: Sewage Flows Shifting, Traffic Declining Friday, Apr 3 2020 

Louisville Metro operations are adapting to the changing dynamics of life and work due to the coronavirus.

Trash and sewer workers are seeing surges in residential waste as road maintenance crews work extended hours on roads free of rush hour traffic.

“Whether it be waste collection or road paving projects or pothole repair,” said Sal Melendez, Louisville’s public works department spokesman. “Our people play a key role in making sure that the city keeps moving.”

Over the last month, the Metropolitan Sewer District has watched sewage flows shift away from commercial and industrial areas and into residential areas, said Sheryl Lauder, MSD spokeswoman. Most of that flow isn’t actually sewage, but so-called “gray water” used to wash dishes, shower and do laundry.

Overall flows are down slightly because of a drop-off in industrial operations, but crews have seen an increase in residential sewage backups. The culprit? All those disposable wipes that are great for disinfecting, but are not meant to be flushed down the toilet.

“That’s what the crews are finding when they put the cameras in the lines,” Lauder said.

On the other side of residential waste, trash collection crews are seeing such a large increase in volume that Melendez with public works is having to ask residents to contain their overflow trash in some kind of bin.

Neither Melendez nor Lauder could immediately quantify the increases in volume, but both said the changes were “significant.”

Meanwhile, shortened commute times — mine is from my bed to my computer — have reduced traffic so much road crews are able to work more hours to complete previously scheduled projects.

“You know, roads have to be repaired and one of the silver linings of COVID-19 is that traffic is not as much as it typically is,” he said. “That allows our crews to work longer hours and in a relatively safer work zone.

Melendez said crews are following social distancing guidelines as much as possible, wearing cloth masks and gloves, but are still sometimes working less than six feet from one another. So far, no one in public works has contracted the virus, he said.

Crews are working on eight to 10 roadways every week. Just this past week, they were able to finish repaving a stretch of Muhammad Ali Boulevard in downtown Louisville.

Editor’s note: If you have a story from the workplace or feel you are an employee working in unsafe conditions, please reach out to reporter Ryan Van Velzer at rvanvelzer@wfpl.org.

Louisville Revenue Likely To Fall Short Due To Pandemic, Reopening Door To Budget Cuts Thursday, Apr 2 2020 

Louisville Metro Hall insignia, Louisville, metro hall, cityIn February, the city’s chief financial officer briefed Metro Council on a surprisingly good revenue forecast that would offset the crush of the rising pension bill that forced $25 million in cuts last year.

Then coronavirus happened.

Now Daniel Frockt is coming up with new projections for Louisville. With three weeks to go until Mayor Greg Fischer presents a tentative budget to council, Frockt said a shortfall is likely for the current fiscal year and the new one starting on July 1.

“There’s a great deal of uncertainty,” he said on a call with reporters Thursday. “We don’t know the economics of it. We also don’t know the science, when we might be able to move about and kind of resume normal business and leisure activities.”

Part of what puts Louisville in a vulnerable position is its tax structure. About a quarter of the city’s general fund budget comes from property taxes and about 11 percent comes from net profits.

But nearly half of of Louisville’s revenue — about $300 million of the $625 million budget — comes from occupational license fees, which is based on wages.

With so many people out of work because of the pandemic, that revenue stream will take a hit. Last week, nearly 113,000 Kentuckians filed for unemployment.

Two recent analyses by the Brookings Institution shed light on Louisville’s economic vulnerability to the pandemic, with one suggesting the city’s reliance on wage-based tax revenue puts it in a riskier position short-term. The other report pointed to leisure and hospitality jobs as among those most likely to be affected by the crisis. It said more than 16 percent of local jobs are in such high-risk categories.

Frockt said the city will most likely draw from its rainy day fund to ease the transition to the next fiscal year. At the end of the last fiscal year, that fund was nearly $71 million, which is already lower than what he said would be a healthy funding level for Louisville.

Some actions on the federal level are affecting the budgeting process as well, such as pushing back the tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15 — which puts it in the next fiscal year — and the uncertainty of whether cities can expect more federal funds.

Some local revenue will also be shifted to the next fiscal year as, for example, people wait for county clerk offices to reopen. Other revenue, from sources such as zoo visits, will be lost altogether, he said.

Frockt said he is still working to determine the size of those revenue shifts. But he said the structural effect will make this fiscal year look worse than it is, whereas the next fiscal year will appear to be better. Then, down the line, the fiscal year ending in June 2022 will look relatively worse compared to the middle year.

Adding to the complexity of the situation is the uncertainty of when the pandemic will subside and the costs Metro will have until then. Already, the city has spend about $3 million on its COVID-19 response, which includes personnel and overtime, the purchase of personal protective equipment and an expanded meals program for seniors, he said.

Frockt said he believed most of those expenses would be reimbursed by by federal funds, though the rules around that are still being finalized.

One moment of relief for the city’s budget going forward is that the state budget passed by the legislature will freeze next year’s pension rate at this year’s level, he said. That means that it won’t increase 12% as anticipated, a savings of just under $12 million.

Frockt did not specify what other measures the city may take to balance its books, including employee furloughs or budget cuts. But he said he hasn’t seen any forecasts that will put Metro’s budget back to the level it was a month ago.

“Likely, we’re going to have to size our budget to the revenue resources that we have,” he said

It’s The First Of The Month. What If You Can’t Make Rent? Wednesday, Apr 1 2020 

It’s the first of the month and the rent is due for thousands of families in Kentucky.

Many, though, may struggle to pay that bill this month. The spreading COVID-19 pandemic has led to the shuttering of scores of business, sparking layoffs and furloughs.

Renters make up about 33 percent of Kentucky’s 1.7 million households, according to data from the Metropolitan Housing Coalition. The rate is slightly higher in Jefferson County, where renters account for about 38 percent of households. The median rent in Jefferson County was $800 in 2018.

Government response to the coronavirus is providing some protections for people who may be at risk of missing a rent payment. The Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice issued an order last month delaying all eviction cases. Gov. Andy Beshear ordered last week suspending all evictions in Kentucky. And last week federal lawmakers passed the CARES Act, which prohibits landlords that participate in certain federally backed housing programs from filing an eviction.

On Wednesday, a new Supreme Court order went a step further and said courts will not accept new eviction filings at all until at least mid-May.

None of these actions relieve a renter from their responsibility to pay their rent when it is due. In fact, the governor’s order makes clear that rent must still be paid.

“If you can pay rent, pay rent,” said Ben Carter, the senior litigation and advocacy counsel for the Kentucky Equal Justice Center.

But Carter suspects many will not be able to pay their rent.

The pandemic has led government officials to force many businesses to close and it has dealt a troubling blow to the nation’s economy. For those that cannot pay, Carter said they should be transparent with their landlord and try to work out a payment plan.

“We expect many landlords will treat tenants fairly and with compassion in these truly extraordinary times,” Carter said.

Some, though, will not.

Carter said he has received reports of landlords attempting to illegally remove tenants during the pandemic.

An illegal eviction includes any attempt from a landlord to remove a tenant or their belongings from a property without a proper court order — this includes shutting off utilities, Carter said.

People who are subjected to an illegal eviction may be entitled a reward of up to three months rent and other fees, Carter said. He said anyone dealing with such an issue should attempt to document any interaction with their landlord and contact an attorney.

Despite Beshear’s moratorium on evictions, landlords could still file for eviction in court until Wednesday’s revision. In Jefferson County, nearly 400 evictions were filed since the Supreme Court delayed eviction case hearings, according to data provided by the Jefferson Circuit Court Clerk.

Any new filing will take months to be processed through court. Tenants who receive notice that their landlord is beginning eviction proceedings should not let fear cause them to move out, said Stewart Pope, advocacy director for the Legal Aid Society of Louisville.

Pope stressed that all eviction orders are currently suspended due to the governor’s order.

“Tenants should immediately call the police if someone arrives to set them out,” he said.

Carter believes that any landlord threatening eviction during the pandemic is just trying to intimidate a tenant into moving out.

“That’s just not what we need to be doing right now,” he said.

Instead, he encouraged any landlord feeling financial pressure to seek out forgivable loan programs and other government assistance.

“The important message I want renters to hear is if you cannot pay rent, don’t leave your house,” Carter said. “It’s just not safe for most people to be leaving their houses.”

District 7 Metro Council Member Tests Positive For Coronavirus Saturday, Mar 28 2020 

Paula McCraney, the Metro Council representative for District 7, found out Saturday she tested positive for COVID-19, making her the first Louisville lawmaker confirmed to have the coronavirus.

Council President David James (D-6), speaking on her behalf, said McCraney is hospitalized but recovering. He said she had been in self-quarantine for the past two weeks after believing she may have been exposed to coronavirus at an event.

More recently, she had experienced a low-grade fever and chest tightness. He said she consulted her doctor, but could not say how she qualified for testing, which is in limited supply and reserved for patients who meet certain criteria. He declined to share McCraney’s location.

McCraney, a Democrat, addressed the her diagnosis in a statement on Saturday.

“Covid-19 doesn’t care about your socio-economic status, your race, gender, age, or address. It’s dangerous and the warnings about social distancing need to be taken seriously both for yourself and for those whom you love,” she said.

She described herself as “on the road to recovery.”

James said McCraney’s mention of race was intentional, given recent rumors circulating online that African American or Black people cannot contract coronavirus. McCraney and James are both African American.

James said McCraney wants everyone to “protect those that are around them, the ones that they love, and not participate in unhealthy behaviors, such as not maintaining a social distance, gathering in large groups.”

McCraney was one of several council members to participate in the most recent full body meeting via teleconference. James said future meetings will continue with teleconferencing. He said the council will proceed with legislation related to the pandemic and other city business.

“We recognize that the city still has to function,” he said. “And because the city still has to function, we still have to do the work of the city in order to even allow for things to take place that need to take place, even to deal with the coronavirus.”

He said McCraney is still working and will handle some District 7 business herself, while her office’s employees will manage the rest.

Metro Council is currently on spring break and will resume meeting in early April.

Metro Government To Offer 3-Month Deferred Payments On Its Business Loans Friday, Mar 20 2020 

Businesses that have received loans from Louisville Metro government can now seek to have payments deferred for up to three months, under a plan approved Friday by the Metropolitan Business Development Corporation board of directors.

The board administers nine different loan programs to assist local businesses with property improvements, accessibility expansions, gap financing and more.

The deferment plan was unanimously approved and is in direct response to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as businesses are shuttering across the city.

Under the plan, the city will also forgo charging late fees to borrowers for three months, and extend loan maturity dates for up to three months for businesses approved for deferment.

Businesses must still apply for the deferment program, and those with payments that are already more than 30 days past due will not qualify, according to the plan. The city currently has $8.2 million out in loans to businesses. City data shows that 16 of 142 businesses are currently behind on payments and wouldn’t qualify.

“I think it’s really forward looking to do this now, and give our clients some relief before they even have a chance to get deep in the hole,” said board member Jacqueline Pennington.

A number of these loans are for restaurant renovations. Restaurants are currently closed statewide, except for delivery and takeout.

The board approved more than $12 million in city loans between July 2011 and November 2017, according to city records.

The largest loan approved during this time was for environmental cleanup at The Edison Center, a former Louisville Gas and Electric building that was recently renovated and now houses hundreds of city employees.

Metro Council Votes To Shift Funds From Pension Payments To COVID-19 Relief Thursday, Mar 19 2020 

Despite concerns and dissent from some members, the Louisville Metro Council voted Thursday night to shift $2.7 million previously earmarked for pension payments to make funds available for COVID-19 relief.

Twenty-three members voted yes, two voted no and one — Brent Ackerson (D-26) — voted present.

Ackerson said he opposed the legislation because there is now federal aid on the way and because the city continues to face fiscal problems.

Louisville is facing a rising pension bill that forced lawmakers to cut more than $25 million from this year’s budget. Some of those cuts hit services that helped the city’s most vulnerable residents.

Last year, a pension expert said using surplus funds — such as the ones shifted in this vote — was a smart way to offset the city’s pension bill. City officials project Louisville will have to pay an additional $41 million toward pensions over the next three years.

The outlook for meeting this fiscal year’s pension bill was positive, according to an assessment by the city’s chief financial officer Daniel Frockt earlier this year. But as Ackerson pointed out, the council has not yet had a chance to hear from Frockt about how the economic collapse caused by the coronavirus will affect Louisville’s budget future.

“How much money are we losing from this budget? How far behind are we going to be?” he said. “We’re not the federal government, we can’t just go and borrow an extra billion dollars. We’ve got to balance our budget.”

But the majority of council members came together to pass the ordinance, which would allow Metro’s Office of Resilience & Community Services to reimburse external agency partners that provide food and housing assistance to those affected by coronavirus.

David Yates (D-25) was a sponsor of the ordinance, along with 21 others.

“What gave me confidence is that we are going to piecemeal this out in small increments, so we can decide where it goes and how much to who,” he said. “But it’s only going to be done if necessary.”

He clarified that passage of the ordinance did not mean council would be spending the money, it meant the body would be making it available.

The ordinance states that the money is intended to be used “as a fund of last resort,” to be accessed when other funding sources are insufficient. The money will be distributed as reimbursements evaluated on a weekly basis by a three-person panel comprised of a representative of the mayor, Metro Council president David James (D-6) or someone he designates, and a representative from Metro United Way.

The legislation was fast-tracked this week because it was an emergency ordinance, meaning it was not heard in committee.

Separately, Mayor Greg Fischer on Wednesday announced a community fund through which households could get $1,000 payments to relieve coronavirus-caused hardship. The One Louisville: COVID-19 Response Fund had raised $3.6 million from donors and will also be used to give grants to community organizations helping those affected.

Louisville To Offer $1,000 Payments To Households In Need Due To Coronavirus Wednesday, Mar 18 2020 

Local government is teaming up with philanthropic leaders to fund grants for community organizations and individuals affected by coronavirus.

The One Louisville: COVID-19 Response Fund has raised $3.6 million in recent days to provide support including providing meals to the homeless, job training and childcare assistance, Mayor Greg Fischer said Wednesday.

“A big thank you to everybody. This is wave one, we’re just going to keep this going but this is what a great compassionate city does,” Fischer said.

The Community Foundation of Louisville will administer grants to community organizations and expects to distribute the first batch in April. It will also direct some funds to Metro Government, which will be able to give $1,000 payments directly to households.

To be eligible, households must have an income that does not surpass the area median income, which is $76,400 for a family of four in the Louisville region.

Applicants will be required to drop off documents proving their identity and loss of income related to the pandemic at their nearest Neighborhood Place location, which you can find online or by calling Metro311 or (502) 574-5000.

Philanthropist Christy Brown, who tested positive for COVID-19 last week, contributed $1.5 million along with her children. The James Graham Brown Foundation donated $1 million. UPS and the Humana Foundation also donated.

Disclosure: Both Christy Brown and the James Graham Brown Foundation are financial supporters of WFPL.

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