Terri Randol and her husband have been residents of Mt. Lebanon Senior Apartments for about two years. They moved in just before the renovation began.
“It looks a whole lot better than it did," she said. "When I first moved here, it was not that great, but once they put the new floors in, the stove, and all that, I fell in love.”
When she moved in, the floors were carpet and linoleum, the appliances were outdated, and the hallway walls were painted bright colors. There was even carpet on the walls in some rooms, including what is now the library.
According to Pastor Ronald Gadson, aspects of the apartment building had fallen into disrepair, and Mt. Lebanon Missionary Baptist Church, which built and owned it, didn't have the resources to fix what needed to be fixed. Developer Allied Argenta partnered with the church to carry out the renovation. Kentucky Housing Corporation invested $5.6 million in tax-exempt bonds for the project.
Before coming to Mt. Lebanon, Terri was homeless. She was living in motels and bus stops. The summers were brutal, she said. Ninety- to 100-degree days with high humidity. Traveling around the city with her belongings and her cat.
But then she caught a break. Terri heard about Mt. Lebanon from New Directions, a nonprofit in Louisville that helps people find safe, affordable, and permanent living situations. Two days later, she had applied and was approved.
“I was like, Thank you, Lord!” she said. “I burst out in tears when they signed the lease and gave me the key.”
She called her husband, who was in a recovery center, to tell him the news.
“I thought he hung up,” she said, “but the counselor said, No, he’s dropped to his knees, he’s crying. I was on my knees, too, because I had prayed and prayed trying to get a place.”
As for many low-income residents of Kentucky, the challenge for Terri and her husband had been affordability. She receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for her disability, but it wasn’t enough to cover expenses and an apartment until, sometimes around 2021, her monthly payments were increased. That's also when she heard about Mt. Lebanon.
“When they said I’m approved,” she said, “I was like, Are you serious? I had to ask her three times.”
She even checked her heart to make sure it was beating.
“I love it, to be honest,” she said. “Me and my husband aren’t going anywhere.”
Photos by Steve Morrow