Needs of neighbors versus needs of homeless stir debate in Metro Council

A proposal before Metro Council would allow fines and other actions against homeless people and others who camp or store belongings on public property.
Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 6:17 PM EDT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A proposal before Metro Council would allow fines and other actions against homeless people and others who camp or store belongings on public property.

People protesting called it “unnecessary,” “misguided” and “cruel.”

Reflecting a growing strain to manage expectations of access to public spaces in tandem with the needs of the homeless, Metro Councilwoman Nicole George said the proposal is driven by needs of people neighboring homeless camps.

“We know that unmanaged public space disproportionately impacts the neighbors,” George said in a meeting of the Metro Council Parks and Sustainability Committee. “It carries specific health-related consequences an elevated risk.”

A press conference prior to the committee meeting was organized by the Coalition for the Homeless. There, critics said the proposed amendment would directly impact homeless camps around the city.

The amendment calls for fines ranging from 50 to 500 dollars for violators on public property including parks, streets, alleys, sidewalks and public ways.

George Eklund, education advocacy director of the Coalition for the Homeless, said the proposal would make it harder to get the homeless off the streets.

“Really, it’s just going to scatter people to the wind,” Eklund said, “and set up a power dynamic for people that are homeless, people that are sleeping on the street, are just going to be afraid of interacting with metro in any way for fear of getting fined.”

The committee took no action, but made plans to continue the debate in October.