Council member has new ideas for Louisville’s homelessness problem

Homeless camp near Heuser Hearing prompts calls for solution to growing issue

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Homeless camps keep popping up all across Louisville.

Some members of the Louisville Metro Council are aware of the issue and said they may be a step closer to solving the problem.

Debbie Woods, Education Director of the Heuser Hearing and Language Academy, said they reached out to the city in November because a homeless camp popped up just feet away from the playground. The school, which has been at 117 E. Kentucky Street for decades, wants a long term solution to make sure their children, their school and their community stays safe.

“Our children play right here,” Woods said. “They can view what’s going on. If you go into the encampment itself there are needles in there, there are places where they defecate in holes, it is every unsanitary and unsafe.”

The problem surfaced about two months ago. What started as one tent turned into a homeless camp in a matter of weeks. Woods said it's concerning because of what the children and parents see during drop off.

"I think it’s sad that they have nowhere else to go,” Mindy Golde, the parent of a Heuser student, said. “I definitely think it’s something we have to address head on.”

To take on the problem District Four Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith said she has some new ideas that could bring real resolutions.

District 4 Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith
District 4 Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith

"Right now we are very close to getting a funded reasonable common-sense solution,” Smith said.

Sexton Smith said on Thursday she's going to propose to the council that the city create low barrier shelters. The shelters won't turn away the homeless for drug use or having pets. Smith said she also wants to turn the abandoned First Link grocery store into emergency temporary housing this winter.

"I want us all to be able to say this winter if you are homeless and you are looking for a place to spend the night, we have a room for you we have a bed for you,” Smith said.

Right now the city reports there are about 744 people sleeping outside in Jefferson County and 150 of them do not want to go inside. The camp near Heuser is expected to receive a 21 day eviction warning.

Smith wants to suggest to the council Thursday that they use $525,000 of the excess budget from 2018, to house those who want to stay.

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