What people have to say about city’s plans
Louisville officials have announced plans to establish a safe outdoor campsite for unhoused residents on a site in Old Louisville, near downtown.
Mayor Greg Fischer said Friday the city has purchased property at 212 E. College St. for the pilot program, which will serve as temporary housing for 40 to 50 people until they can find more permanent homes.
Louisville’s Office of Resilience and Community Services is in charge of selecting an operation manager to run the site, and more details will be available in coming months.
Here’s what some in the community have to say about the initial plans.
“GLI supports long-term solutions to assist and support Louisville’s houseless population. The city’s plans to create a temporary outdoor space is a commendable first step, and we continue to support long-term solutions, like affordable housing, to comprehensively address homelessness in our community. We applaud the city for identifying this as a priority for the distribution of American Rescue Plan dollars and will continue to collaborate with elected leaders to formulate impactful and lasting solutions.”
“We understand why the city is trying to do something that we hope is harm reduction for people on the streets. But we would just really hope any short-term initiatives are supplemental and temporary, not something that would replace the funding for permanent and supportive housing options.
“We’re grateful there are people engaged in the conversation, and we just want to keep the focus on that housing is what ends homelessness, and if there is going to be a temporary program, then we just really need to make sure that part of that program, built into that program is a long-term housing option for anybody who’s served through that program.”
“The city just doesn’t have the political will to house people. And that’s what this boils down to. This is a lack of political will to house people first. This is an open-air prison. It’s a Gaza. It’s a refugee camp.
“People live in places for a specific reason. They have resources in that area or know of resources in that area. They have family and friends in that area. They have spots where they get food, they may work in that area. Once we start moving people to the safe outdoor space, are we criminalizing other spots? We know we are because we’re already starting to clear camps. … We’re giving them no choice but to live in this area or be further criminalized.”
“The Salvation Army does work closely with Louisville Metro on issues related to serving the homeless community. Our Center of Hope is one of the largest shelters in the area for men, women, veterans, and we offer Emergency Family Shelter units as well at 911 S. Brook Street.
“For those we serve, homelessness can oftentimes also be a temporary situation which people may find themselves in needing emergency shelter for a brief period.
“We are not involved per se with the pilot of the Safe Outdoor Space for the unsheltered residents. However, once people are established there at their choice, they will then learn of The Salvation Army Services, be connected with our programs for shelter, case managers, feeding, personal storage and our Day Shelter Program. Our hopes are that people come inside and begin working on a path away from homelessness and to self-sufficiency.
“The issue of current-day homeless is broad and complicated and compounded by the fact Louisville has an eviction rate two times the national average. Via the Homeless Coalition in Louisville all providers are working together and with Louisville Metro on helping our community members who are homeless or choosing to live outdoors.”
Jecorey Arthur, Metro councilman representing downtown and fringe neighborhoods
“This year, we allocated (affordable housing) funding for families at the lowest level of income for the first time ever, and we’re proud of that, but it was only $2.5 million. At this rate, if we continue to fund for families at the lowest level of income at $2.5 million, to close the housing gap at $4.2 billion, we’re looking at 1,680 years. And that’s if the population doesn’t increase, labor doesn’t go up, lumber doesn’t go up — that’s if nothing changes.
“Until then, we need options as far as transitional temporary options. … This is one of those spots.
“This is temporary, this is a safe spot for you to go to. I’d rather you go and camp here than under the expressway. I’d rather you go and camp here than camp in a forest and be in an environment where you don’t have access to any resources. I would rather you have access to resources and be in a temporary spot that eventually transitions you into permanent housing.”
Anthony Piagentini, Metro councilman, chair of Republican caucus
“We need to do different things related to addressing our homelessness problem. There is nobody that disagrees with that statement — Republican, Democrat, East End, West End, South End, downtown. Everybody agrees: What we’re currently doing stinks.
“I am very open to some new ideas, this being one of them, assuming we do it right. And if we don’t, we need to be ready to pivot and go in another direction, because this problem is not going to go away, and it needs to be something where we find the best model for the best overall solution, both for the people that find themselves homeless, but also for the rest of the community.”
“We believe that a safe outdoor space is a good first step of many, for our unsheltered neighbors on their path to finding permanent housing.
“As a society, we’ve failed to address the underlying issues for so many people experiencing houselessness. Everyone deserves the dignity and stability of housing, and we hope this continues the work of ensuring that no one needs to sleep on the streets.
“Part of the problem has always been about sufficient financial resources to provide the help needed. (Louisville Downtown Partnership) strongly believes that a significant percentage of the (American Rescue Plan) funding available to Louisville be used to provide help and ultimately find homes for those in need.”
Reporters Billy Kobin, Ben Tobin, Darcy Costello, Sylvia Goodman and Bailey Loosemore contributed to this report.