New ordinance would help protect homeless camps - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

New ordinance would help protect homeless camps

A homeless man gathers his belongings. (Source: WAVE 3 News) A homeless man gathers his belongings. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - They're under overpasses, in wooded areas and tucked away throughout the metro.

Homeless camps can sprout anywhere.

On any given night, Louisville has 1,200 to 1,500 homeless people seeking a place to sleep, according to the Coalition for the Homeless.

"It's a pretty big issue," Mary Frances Schafer, a Community Coordinator for the group said. "They can't afford housing."

In late October, LMPD and city officials removed a homeless camp in Portland over health concerns, leaving many without any belongings.

"What we're talking about here is everything someone owns," Metro Councilman Bill Hollander said.

Hollander has proposed putting the informal notice policy into an ordinance.

It would require 21 days written notice at the camp and to the Coalition for the Homeless. Personal belongings left behind or recovered will be stored for 30 days.

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"The notice was not effective at all," Hollander said. "We thought it was important that we say, 'No, we can do better than moving people and all of their belongings.'"

When a bridge serves as a roof and a sidewalk as a porch, even the smallest item is priceless.

"Their clothes, their bedding, their family pictures," Hollander said. "It's heartbreaking to see all of that disappear."

For Schafer, the moves just shift a problem to begin with.

"It really doesn't do anything because the folks are going to be somewhere," she said.

The hope is the new law, might provide at least some help.

"Get to these folks ahead of time, send outreach teams to them, try to get these people into shelter as much as we can," Schafer said.

"If we're going to move people, we ought to do it in a way they get effective notice so that they can gather up their belongings as opposed to having them go to the landfill," Hollander said.

They both believe the only real way to fix the issue is more affordable housing and better resources.

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