Why Louisville Needs A Metro Budget That Puts People Over Profit

Louisville needs to invest in people instead of policing

Louisville Metro Council
Louisville Metro Council

For so many folks in our city and state, it only takes a few bad circumstances to become homeless. For me, it took a divorce and being diagnosed with cancer for a third time to drain whatever savings and stability I had. Despite all that, I do my best to wake up with a smile on my face and put my energy towards something positive.

Right now, I am determined to make sure my city and my local representatives understand that the current proposed metro budget leaves too many of us behind. After going line by line through the proposed metro budget – even reading it twice from start to finish – I believe our local lawmakers are more focused on cutting corners than providing the care people need to thrive. 

I love my hometown of Louisville, and I will always fight for what I love. I was born and raised here, and when I hit one of my lowest times of sleeping on couches and living in my car, I was offered shelter at Hope Village in October 2023. It’s services like these that are at risk of being cut or downsized under the proposed budget when they already struggle to make up for where our government has failed.

I’m so grateful for the opportunity to live at Hope Village, but it’s by no means a perfect or long-term solution. I don’t have access to keys to my own space and there are repairs that go unfixed for months at a time. At one point, showers were unavailable for weeks because of frozen pipes. These problems point to a larger crisis: Hope Village exists as a stop gap because our city refuses to invest in affordable housing and services.

Instead of funding affordable housing, Louisville’s proposed budget will cut funding for eviction prevention and ending homelessness. Rather than employing a caring and compassionate response to people experiencing a crisis, the city wants to increase the law enforcement budget. We need funding for solutions that meet people where they’re at, yet the city council and mayor are doubling down on tactics that have never worked!

This past state legislative session, I visited the Capitol at least 10 times to fight for my community. Unfortunately, state lawmakers passed H.B. 5 — a bill that includes provisions to ban camping to target folks who are homeless, involuntarily commit people experiencing mental health crises, and create a drug-induced homicide law. Essentially, the bill will criminalize poverty without creating a caring infrastructure to actually help individuals in the long term.

As a city, Louisville can combat these dangerous policies by investing in the care and services that can support people in the first place. The crises our city is experiencing are the result of policy failures – exactly what the Louisville Metro Council could course-correct with the right investments. 

As a leader with VOCAL-KY, I’ve been able to fight for my community like never before. I’ve traveled West Virginia and Washington D.C. to fight against the criminalization of homelessness and organize with other directly-impacted people. This month, I plan to testify at local budget hearings to ensure our metro council knows that what’s currently proposed just won’t cut it. 

What Louisville needs is straight-forward: Public investments into affordable housing, eviction prevention, public health tools, and mental health services. We can’t police our way out of poverty, and our metro budget should reflect that. Instead of building more jails, it’s time to build out care and services that help people thrive.

The safest communities are the ones with the most funding. With a budget that meets people where we’re at, we have a chance to make Louisville a happier and healthier community. It’s time the Metro Council pass a budget that puts people first, not profit.

Maurice Noe is a resident of Hope Village in Louisville and leader with VOCAL-KY.