City clears out homeless camp, tries to help residents

Following 3 week notice, city clears out homeless camp in downtown Louisville

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Driving through Louisville it’s not hard to find people living on the streets. Most services for the homeless community are downtown, and that is where you can find so many homeless people.

On Monday, a large camp was cleared up by the city at First and Jacob streets.

The city gave the homeless people living there 21 days notice. Their time there came to an end Monday morning as they were told to leave.

“They came this morning (Monday) and started cleaning up and said everybody had to get up and leave,” camp resident Devon Thompson said. Thompson had been living under the overpass for several weeks.

City crews came in and cleared out the tents and the trash left behind. A homeless protection ordinance that went into effect in 2017 requires a 21-day notice at a camp and to the Coalition for the Homeless before a homeless person or their property can be displaced.

Roughly 30 people lived at the camp near First and Jacob streets, and the Kentucky Department of Transportation asked for the area to be cleared out.

“22 days ago the notice was posted, as the ordinance permits us to do so, which stated that that camp would be cleaned out and all of the trash, hypodermic needles, if there are large deposits of human feces in the area, and also the belongings that folks had there,” District 4 Councilwoman Barbara Sexton-Smith said. “When the camp was cleaned out in the last 21 days, each of the people living in that area had an opportunity to communicate with a case worker.”

Sexton-Smith said the case workers and outreach workers helped the homeless with medical or housing needs.

Natalie Harris from the Coalition For the Homeless says there are about 6,000 homeless people in Louisville. Many suffer from substance abuse and mental health issues.

Harris says there is a lack of shelters in the city. Most are full on any given night.

That's what Thompson fears.

"Where is everyone going to go," Harris questioned. "We don't have no where to go."

Harris hopes that a recent requests for proposals funded by Louisville Metro government will help get a better understanding on how to help the homeless.

“We just issued a request for proposals last week, looking for researchers who can help us get a handle on who are the number of people homeless and living on our streets,," Harris said. "What are their needs, and how can we design a solution in Louisville that might help meet that need?”

Since the 21-day ordinance went into effect last year, eight homeless camps have been cleared. Councilwoman Sexton-Smith says many have taken advantage of the case workers, services and several have transitioned into housing.

Sexton-Smith says there are several shelters in the community and the Louisville Metro Office of Resilience and Community Services is also another resource for people. For more information click here.

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