Louisville Metro clears downtown homeless encampments

After giving the occupants 21 days notice, Louisville Metro cleared out several downtown...
After giving the occupants 21 days notice, Louisville Metro cleared out several downtown homeless encampments underneath I-65 overpasses.(WAVE 3 News)
Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 1:57 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 6, 2021 at 10:19 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The City of Louisville took steps Wednesday to remove homeless encampments from the downtown area. People living under the Interstate 65 overpass at several downtown locations had 21 days notice to vacate the area.

Twelve people went to Wayside Christian Mission, and another four sought help at the Healing Place before the 21 days were up.

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“We hope that today will deter the reestablishing of these encampments,” Tameka Laird, director of Metro’s Office of Resilience and Community Services said. “This is where we have our outreach, we have hopefully our overall coordination with LMPD and others to help deescalate and also to make sure people know that this is not a place to actually establish a camp.”

However, there were dozens living in the tent communities who did not want to go inside and take shelter, and spent Wednesday morning collecting their things and finding a new place to go.

On the corner of Jackson and Jefferson Streets, Jeff Gill helped gather people’s belongings. Gill, the founder of outreach program Hip Hop Cares, said cleaning up the streets doesn’t clean up their problems.

“The issue and the people do not go away when they do these clearings, they just go somewhere else,” Gill said.

Several other outreach programs were on site Wednesday as well.

Tiny Herron of NuLease Medical Services said it’s important to be there when the cleanup happens.

“Just so we can say in contact with them and keep that consistent service providing going on,” Herron explained.

Herron said they offer several services like for behavioral health and substance abuse. They were even offering transportation. Herron said the main goal, however, is to find shelter.

“We have a lot of services in the city but they’re just not tapped into especially with this population,” said Herron, “so the thought is we’re going to bring those resources to them.”

Herron and other outreach workers said it’s harder to follow up with the homeless population once they disperse from these sites. That’s another big reason they’re out there.

”The most important part of outreach in general is just building human connection,” Gill said, “so to tie that in with what is happening today, we try to add a level of humanity to something that seems so otherwise.”

The city relocated around 40 individuals living in tent communities Wednesday.

Louisville Metro has acknowledged there is much more that needs to be done to address homelessness and have taken several other steps to combat it, such as purchasing new land for an outdoor shelter.

As of Wednesday, the property still sat stagnant. The city said it needs an operator before it can launch the safe outdoor space.

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