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‘Very scary and lonely’: Homeless woman describes living on Louisville streets

Published: Jun. 22, 2021 at 5:25 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 22, 2021 at 6:36 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - If you are finally going to back to the office in downtown Louisville, you may be stunned by the number of homeless people you see.

The tents, the trash, and so many of their belongings are taking over some sidewalks.

Tami Groves lives in a tent on the sidewalk under the overpass on Jackson Street.

”Got blankets and pillows,” she said, adding that she’s been on the streets with her dog since the beginning of the year.

Groves said she lost the roof over her head after a breakup with her boyfriend.

”Very scary and lonely,” Groves said. “It seems to be getting worse. People using drugs to cover up things.”

On one sidewalk downtown, there were 16 tents lined up next to each other; across the street and around the corner there are more. Lots of trash is scattered in the area -- suitcases, milk crates, baskets, chairs, and couches, too.

”The furniture, a gentleman stopped and dropped it off,” Groves said.

People are holding on to what they have.

”I see the same thing you see,” Kelly Hutchinson, from the Salvation Army in Louisville, said.

The Salvation Army said the city’s homeless population is more visible now because the weather is nice and people are out more. The Coalition for the Homeless said some people are not staying in shelters because of other reasons.

”As is a constant issue, emergency shelters are generally big rooms with lots of people, and sometimes people aren’t interested in or have a mental health need that causes that to be a stressful situation for them,” said Catherine McGeeney, from the Coalition for the Homeless.

McGeeney said shutting down encampments hasn’t happened during the pandemic; they’ve even grown in some areas. The concern is that it will get worse.

”We are anticipating that with the moratorium on evictions that is coming up on June 30, then we’ll be seeing an increased number of homeless,” Hutchinson said.

Groves said she hopes to get off the streets sometime soon.

”It’s not a healthy place to live,” she said. “If I could have my home back, I would take it in a heartbeat.”

The Salvation Army said the best thing the community can do is to keep people in their housing and prevent them from becoming homeless to begin with. Hutchinson said sometimes it’s as little as $500 to $1,000 that can keep a family from losing their home when an unexpected crisis occurs in their life.

The Salvation Army provides emergency financial assistance, rent assistance and utility assistance. It also has programs that include counseling, educational and vocational services to help lead people who are experiencing homelessness back to self-sufficiency and independence.

For more information on the Salvation Army of Louisville click here: https://www.salvationarmylouisville.org/.

For more information on the Coalition for the Homeless click here: https://louhomeless.org/.

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