Louisville To Clear Another Homeless Camp — This One On Short Notice

Nov 1, 2021 at 3:03 pm
An encampment in Louisville where people who were houseless were living in January of 2021.  |  Photo by Kathryn Harrington
An encampment in Louisville where people who were houseless were living in January of 2021. | Photo by Kathryn Harrington

For the second time in less than a month, Louisville is clearing a homeless camp — except this time, it gave residents a 24-hour notice instead of a 21-day notice. 

The city is giving the camp’s estimated five to six residents longer to move out from under the Interstate-64 ramp at Market and Ninth streets before the clearing begins — 72 hours instead of 24 —  but the timeframe is still quick compared to the city’s 21-day time frame for metro-owned properties. 

This particular property, though, is owned by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, and per a memorandum of understanding between the city and the state, clearings can occur there within 24 hours of a notice being posted, said Susan Buchino, Louisville’s new director of homeless services, whose position was announced only a couple of hours after the clearing notice was posted. The camp is in a dangerous position by virtue of being located under the off ramp of I-64, continued Buchino, who is an assistant professor of health promotion and behavioral sciences at UofL who has been assisting the city with researching its homelessness initiatives since 2019.

In early October, after a 21-day notice had lapsed, Metro government cleared several streets downtown where Louisville’s largest concentration of houseless individuals lived. That property was also owned by the state’s transportation cabinet. An outreach volunteer, Donny Greene, told LEO at the time that the clearing would cause Louisville’s houseless population to scatter across the city. Buchino said that her department does not track where each resident goes after a camp is cleared, although she knows some moved into shelters while others left to go elsewhere. 

On Monday, outreach workers were reportedly on the scene of the camp that is to be cleared on Thursday morning. The city is currently attempting to overhaul its approach to homelessness. The centerpiece of its program is a new Safe Outdoor Space in Old Louisville, a city-sanctioned encampment. But, it’s not expected to open until mid November. 

Buchino’s position is a piece of the city’s new approach to homelessness. As someone who has helped the city before with its initiatives, Buchino says she is coming in with a certain level of knowledge about homelessness in Louisville.

“For the past two and a half years, I've really been able to dive into what's happening in our community around the system of services,” she said. “And look at some of the gaps and barriers. So, I'm already very familiar with the strategic plan on how to address those, what things that we would like to see happening and how we can help shift the system. I've already built the relationships I think that will help in this position because I've been part of the larger team of people that are addressing this issue. It's a complex social issue.”

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