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Homeless camps growing in Louisville because the city can’t clear them

Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 4:44 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 7, 2021 at 6:50 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - It’s hard not to see it. Homeless camps are growing all around Louisville. Metro Government is trying to address the number of homeless people on the streets.

In downtown Louisville, on the side of the roads you’ll find people, tents, trash, and furniture. Don Karcher notices it and is doing something about it.

“It could happen to anyone of us,” Karcher said.

Karcher is a veteran and depends his own time and money to help strangers.

“Today, I was just bringing down snacks, sandwich, and two waters,” Karcher said.

Karcher hands out food and water to the homeless often. Two months ago, Karcher says he lost his cell phone and a homeless person returned it to him. He sees the good in people.

“I hope that they know someone is there and cares,” Karcher said.

Ebony Murray, 31, is homeless. She believes there are more homeless people on the streets.

“It’s scary, it’s very dangerous and dirty,” Murray said. “People are afraid of being judged. It’s embarrassing.”

Murray said living on the streets is not the future she wants, she’s been staying with friends here and there and is getting some mental health help.

“It’s just way too hot for me to be in a tent,” Murray said.

On Jefferson Street, there are more camps. Newlyweds Amber and Jeremy Smith were setting up their tent home. They recently left shelter at Wayside Christian Mission. They both say they have struggled with drug abuse in the past.

“It’s something I don’t want no more,” Smith said.

Some folks told WAVE 3 News they don’t want to stay at shelters because the weather is nice and they would rather be outdoors or they don’t like the rules in place at the shelters.

Camps seem to be growing because the city isn’t moving people out because of COVID. Louisville’s Office of Resilience and Community Services says when the pandemic began, they became limited to just helping with cleaning up the camps instead of clearing them. They are currently reviewing the next steps.

For those who feel like what they see is an eye sore Don says make the situation change.

“Then do something,” Karcher said. “If you say that then do something. There needs to be more resources to the homeless and mentally ill.”

WAVE 3 News reached out to Louisville Metro Government and the Coalition for the Homeless. They couldn’t talk on camera on Wednesday, but the city’s Office of Resilience and Community Services did send a statement about what they are doing to help the homeless.

Debbie Belt, Communications Coordinator for Louisville Metro Government’s Office of Resilience and Community Services stated:

“As a community, Louisville attempts to address homelessness in a coordinated and comprehensive manner.

That’s why our focus – and the target of our Homeless Task Force, Metro Government’s homeless initiatives funding and new Homeless Services division -- has been on helping community partners create and sustain the direct services that provide people living unsheltered with the tools they need to change their lives for the better.

We work tirelessly with the Coalition for Homeless, the Continuum of Care and its members and outreach groups to provide the residents of these homeless encampments with resources and services including help obtaining medical care, making referrals to shelter, and providing other supportive services such as behavioral and mental health counseling, and drug and alcohol addiction assessments.

Concerns about homeless encampments are received/reported to Louisville Metro311 then forwarded to our Metro Homeless Encampment Core Team to start the assessment process. To report an encampment to Metro 311, you can call 311 or 574-5000, visit https://louisvilleky.gov/government/metro311, dial 311, email metro.311@louisvilleky.gov, Tweet @Metro311 or download the app.

When the pandemic began, we limited to camp cleanings instead of camp clearings to limit the spread of COVID. We are currently reviewing the next steps.

It will take all of us in this compassionate community – from Metro government to individuals to places of faith to businesses and neighborhoods – to make a real impact. Find ways to plug in at the Coalition for Homeless website, or one of the many street outreach teams.

For more information about our efforts to date, please visit our website and look at the section called “Louisville’s Unsheltered Homeless Initiatives Reports” at https://louisvilleky.gov/government/resilience-and-community-services/plans-reports-and-external-funding

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