Louisville's largest homeless shelter frustrated with tent city next door

Louisville's largest homeless shelter frustrated with tent city next door

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Frustration is mounting for a local homeless organization as a large plot of land under the interstate becomes home to many.

The area that's become a tent city is under the new part of the interstate expansion at Preston and Jefferson Streets and is owned by the state. It sits right next door to Wayside Christian Mission.

Wayside COO Nina Moseley tells WAVE 3 News, it's not just a problem for the city, but also for the shelter with many families living in their facility who are trying to get back on their feet.

"It's a big dilemma for us," Moseley said. "We've tried as much  as we could to help them."

Try as they might, Wayside Christian Mission, the largest homeless shelter in Louisville, cannot persuade their next door neighbors at Preston and Jefferson to sleep in the facility's beds.

"They won't come into a shelter for various reasons," Moseley said. "Many times they're still drinking and drugging and they know they can't come in the shelter."

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Because of the the bridge and interstate construction, Wayside sold the property to the state and has no power to move the camp out. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet tells  WAVE 3 News, the state gets calls from LMPD asking if they can be on property when problems arise. While most of the tent city residents are gone during the day, it's packed with homeless at night.

Wayside took a tough stance: If homeless in the camp won't accept the mission's help, they can't accept Wayside's food. Moseley explained what they tell homeless living on the corner who don't want to follow their rules.

"You need to come in to eat, but not if you're staying on this corner, because it's creating a problem," Moseley said.

Moseley says the main issue with the camp is that Wayside's Jefferson Street shelter is home to many children.

"You don't know if they're just people who need a place to stay or if they're people who are dangerous to the children or if they're using 
drugs," Moseley said.

One man who didn't want to go on camera, told us his Uncle lives in the camp. He admits he has an alcohol problem, but complains he should still be able to get food without walking to another pantry. He said his Uncle is old and is too  set in his ways to change now.

As for the city's responsibility, Moseley says "It would seem to us, that there's some things the city could do. What that is, I don't know."

Debbie Belt with Metro Government's Department of Community Services told WAVE 3 News, the city is working on the issue with the Coalition for the Homeless. Team members have been interacting with many of the people living on the lot to try and place them and find solutions.

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