Louisville’s homeless population has increased, but less are sleeping on the streets

2019 census of Louisville homeless population released

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - With homelessness becoming more and more visible in Louisville, how do the numbers stack up? Are we seeing an increase in the population?

The Coalition for the Homeless released its annual census this week to try to answer those questions.

It shows just over a four-percent increase in the homeless population from 2017, which isn’t huge when you put it in perspective. It’s just under 300 people.

The coalition says many expected it to be much higher, because the camps have taken root in more visible places.

“I think all of us are really relieved that the numbers didn’t spike this year,” Melissa Kratzer with the coalition said. “Even those of us who work in the homeless system weren’t sure how much it’s gone up.”

The census counted 6,986 homeless people in Louisville, not a number that easily flies under the radar, but the coalition says development downtown has displaced many, and newer more visible camps have popped up.

There is a silver lining coming out of the numbers -- 18-percent less people are sleeping outside.

“Wayside Christian Mission is a big reason why our point-in-time count for the unsheltered people sleeping outside went way down from the last year,” Kratzer said.

On the coldest day of the year, January 30, a total of 1,071 homeless people were counted. Of those, 953 were in shelters and 118 were outdoors.

“We think that proves people will come inside when they have options,” Kratzer said.

Another improvement was the 66 percent drop in homeless youth. That’s down from 230 people in 2017 to 76, thanks to the coalition’s concentrated efforts.

“We know when we all come together and band together that we can reduce homelessness and eventually end homelessness,” Kratzer said.

The coalition says there needs to be more federal funding towards affordable housing.

“We also need more local government resources and we know if the proposed cuts are made to the metro budget -- specifically the office of resilience in community services, the external agency funds and neighborhood development funds -- that our numbers for homelessness will spike,” Kratzer said.

These numbers only account for the men, women and families that seek services from Louisville’s many resources. There are still some out there that have not been accounted for.

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