Louisville starts cleaning up downtown homeless camps

Louisville starts cleaning up downtown homeless camps

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Louisville Metro Government is again cleaning up the homeless encampments underneath downtown overpasses.

Just a few weeks away from the Kentucky Derby, the encampments are being swept up, and sprayed down, but things are different from some of the past cleanups.

The cleanup started Thursday under the Jackson Street overpass. Nobody living there was displaced, and they were able to move right back when the sidewalk dried.

Homeless outreach volunteers said it’s a big step forward for the city.

“This morning was a beautiful collaboration,” said Tiny Herron, of St. John Center’s homeless outreach team.

Herron said the city worked with groups like the St. John Center for Homeless Men in order to make sure the people living under the overpasses could stay, as opposed to past cleanups that required them to find shelter elsewhere, or not at all.

“When people get displaced, we don’t know where they go,” Herron said. “They may have been in the middle of getting connected to services, so having everybody be able to stay in one place, we’re still able to make sure they’re getting those services. We know where we can find them.”

This time around, Herron said there were people on standby to make sure if anything was broken or destroyed by the city, it would be replaced.

She also said if people were living in broken tents or sleeping bags with holes, they were able to give them new ones through the different outreach programs.

It’s not the first time this kind of cleanup has happened in the weeks leading up to the Kentucky Derby, and the city doesn’t say whether the timing of the cleanup is related to that.

Director for the Metro Office of Resilience and Community Services Tameka Laird said, in the past, it was an issue of health, and it still is. The current cleanup is just under different circumstances.

“We are following CDC considerations and guidelines,” Laird said, “and under that we are having the actual encampments be able to stay an shelter in place.”

Hip Hop Cares is another outreach group involved in the collaboration with the city. Founder Jeff Gill said it’s vital to not only have shelter, but to have clean shelter.

“Cleaning encampments is a necessary part of keeping the folks that we serve on a daily basis safe and alive,” Gill said.

The cleanup process includes four different spots in the city starting with the other side of the street on Friday.

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