A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Center for Great Neighborhoods focus is on inclusive, sustainable development for all 

Editor’s note: This story is the first of a two-part series the Center for Great Neighborhoods has rolled out to raise awareness for the different ways it works to create positive change in Covington.

As the Center for Great Neighborhoods wraps up its 62nd property development, it takes a look back at real estate work over the years through the eyes of Faye Massey, who has lived most of her life in Covington’s Westside neighborhood.

Faye is a leader, a beloved neighbor, an avid gardener, an artist, a storyteller, a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother.

She’s lived on her current street, West Robbins, for over 36 years. She’s gardened at Riddle Yates, our community garden, for each of those years – taking her son down to the garden in his infant seat, and then her grandchildren, and even her great grandchildren. Faye worked for The Center for many years, and leaders say they have learned a lot from her and continue to benefit from her valuable insight.

In Faye’s opinion, her street’s fate took a turn when The Center purchased 308 West Robbins in the early 90’s: “when I first moved to Robbins, there had been a lot of home owners moved or passed away and so many of these houses were chopped up and made into apartments by various landlords. They were not taken care of for about 10 years and then stood vacant for many years.”

There were several reasons for the long-term vacancy: Crime in the neighborhood had peaked, prostitution, drugs, and violence were commonplace.

While many structures throughout the community are lovingly restored by committed homeowners and business owners, some are in such bad condition that no one wants to touch them…. except the Center. Through its vast historic rehab experience, it has witnessed the transformational impact that revitalizing the worst buildings can have on communities, so we work with residents on ways to address these properties.

The Center’s real estate process is commonly referred to as a slow growth approach. 

It’s key to the mission to honor Faye and other long-term residents with inclusive and sustainable development of housing for all income levels. Each of its redevelopments builds on the best parts of the neighborhood while addressing the most pressing challenges: improving safety, stabilizing the housing market, and instilling a sense of optimism for the community at large.

Faye’s story illustrates how deep many residents’ ties are in this community.

The Center celebrates this history and the stories of its long-term residents are woven into everything we do.

Faye believes the creativity of the community is the common thread that ties old to new, past to present: “there have always been so many creative people in this neighborhood.

In the beginning, people who lived in this neighborhood – they were hat makers, cigar rollers, and this and that. Today, there are 6 artists just on my street. The urban farm, the chickens, and all of the creative energy has just brought the Westside to life.”

In part two of this story, learn more about how the neighborhood’s rich history is integrated into our everyday work and has guided our real estate strategy throughout the years.

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