LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The owner of a halfway house run by the Kristy Love Foundation, which had been operating illegally for years in Louisville, tried to finally get zoning approval this week, but was denied by the Board of Zoning Adjustment Monday.
During the case hearing, the group’s founder, Angela Renfro, mentioned official events it held headlined by the state’s chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General Andy Beshear.
Renfro also stated that police have called her to shelter people in need of help.
Both of those actions happened during a time where some in Metro government said the house run by the organization was operating without approval.
The testimony at the lengthy Monday night meeting was emotional.
A handful of women, who were once facing substance abuse or human trafficking, said the Kristy Love Foundation saved their lives.
"I thought I was going to die an addict," one woman said.
Specifically, the residents living at a halfway house at 1830 Date Street, which was being considered for a conditional use permit to operate as a transitional housing facility, showed up to speak.
Neighbors told a different story though, claiming the residence has caused them problems including increased crime and trash in their neighborhood.
Metro Council President David James spoke at the hearing. He said over the past two years, 50 police runs have been made to the house, which he stated has never gotten approval to operate.
“What I’m saying to you is this house is actually operating illegally,” James said. “If you open a liquor store, you don’t open it until you get the permits and the license. This house has been operating for two years illegally.”
Despite those claims, Renfro said police have actually called her before, but not because she was in trouble.
“Sometimes the police call us asking do we have a bed available for a young lady they picked up off the street,” Renfro said.
An LMPD spokesperson told WAVE 3 News that investigators have been to the facility to connect with victims in cases they may be working, but do not take people to the house denied approval or make official referrals to it.
“I’m sure it’s possible that individual officers may provide information to people they encounter about the work of Kristy Love, as we do for many other service providers in town," the spokesperson wrote in an email. "But we don’t have an organized or official way to do that.”
Renfro said the Attorney General’s Office attended her ribbon cutting.
"Also, the ribbon cutting with Andy Beshear," Renfro testified.
"Was all this done at 1830?" a board member asked regarding the Date Street address.
“1830. yes, ma’am,” Renfro replied.
Attorney General Andy Beshear was also at a September 2018 speaking engagement, touting work with human trafficking organizations including the Kristy Love Foundation. The address listed on the press release that day was 1830 Date Street, which James previously claimed was operating illegally at the time.
Board members ultimately denied the foundation approval to operate in an emotional decision.
“Andy Beshear and all these other people, and yet no one seems to have reported that they were operating illegally,” BOZA member Lula Howard stated around the time she cast her ‘no’ vote.
When asked about working with the organization some claim was operating illegally, a spokesperson with the AG’s Office sent the following statement:
“In the past, the office has worked with the foundation in its efforts to provide services to victims of human trafficking. The office is not currently working with the foundation and has not for some time. However, we continue to fight against human trafficking through our Survivors’ Council and by providing training to law enforcement.”
An additional property located across the street, also operated by the Kristy Love Foundation, was heard at the Monday meeting. Its case was continued to be heard later this month because the owner was not properly listed on paperwork.