The transformation of the Beecher Terrace housing project is under way in Louisville’s Russell neighborhood. Many residents have already moved from the 758 residential units, and once they’re gone, Beecher Terrace will be demolished, and by 2023, construction is to be completed for 640 mixed-income housing units, along with retail and other improvements.
That all sounds promising, but it takes a lot of meetings, conversations and explaining to make residents feel comfortable with that level of change. And one individual who is doing a lot of that reassuring is Jackie Floyd, a neighborhood liaison for the Center for Neighborhoods and a lifelong Russell resident.
“My job was to go out and develop relationships with the people in the community so they can be engaged in the meetings and know about what’s happening, what’s going on in their community, so they can have a say,” said Floyd.
She spent a year working full-time for Vision Russell, the organization charged with creating “a collaborative effort to create and implement a dynamic and transformative plan for the Russell neighborhood.” Then in 2017, she moved in her current role with the nonprofit Center for Neighborhoods, with responsibilities ranging across several West End neighborhoods.
But Floyd says her work hasn’t changed much – at 65, she’s happy to be working her full-time job, then spending many evenings at community meetings, talking about the positive effects that the $29 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant will have for revitalizing the Russell neighborhood.
“Nobody should decide what goes on in your community without your input,” she said. “My approach was to tell people it was our responsibility to be involved in the process. I think that when you’ve lived somewhere a long time, there’s sadness and excitement, and some are scared to move on.”
As a constant presence at those neighborhood meetings, Floyd has gained a reputation as a community leader who motivates others to speak out.
“I don’t empower them – what I help them do is discover their own power and how to use it,” she said. “We all have that power, and sometimes we don’t know we have that power. We’re hesitant to use it. I like working with people and saying, ‘You have it, let’s use it. How are you going to own your power?’ ”
Floyd said she’s happy to be working to improve the neighborhood where she was born and raised. She attended Brandeis Elementary, Parkland Middle and Male High, then moved on to Jefferson Community College and Sullivan University. She spent much of her career working at non-profits, including 14 years at the Home of the Innocents, while raising five children. When her husband passed away in 2013, she found renewed energy for her work.
“I’m excited about the next 5-10 years, because it’s an opportunity,” she said. “We can have the coffee shops and restaurants. I won’t have to go outside my community to get what I need. I can get it right here in my own community.”