Metro Louisville Plans To Clear Homeless Encampments Under I-65, Near Wayside

Sep 14, 2021 at 10:41 am
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

The city government plans to clear encampments that make up Louisville's largest concentration of people who live on the streets,  while expanding outreach to the area's residents, according to a press release announcing the 21-day notice.

The notice, posted at 8 a.m. today, is for Jackson, Jefferson, Preston, Main, Market, Hancock and Liberty streets in-between Brook and Floyd streets in downtown Louisville, as well an encampments located underneath and adjacent to Interstate 65. These encampments are near Wayside Christian Mission's low-barrier shelter.

Metro Louisville says that the clearing has been ordered due to health and safety concerns posed to both people living in the camps and those in the surrounding community. The assessment was conducted per a memorandum of understanding between the city and the state government, the latter of which owns the property that is being cleared.

The city was supposed to clear the same area ahead of Derby this year, but opted to clean instead. The city resumed clearing camps, which it had halted during the pandemic, in July. But, the city said it would be using a risk assessment to determine when clearings needed to occur.

Over the next three weeks, the city promises that camp residents will be the focus of targeted outreach in order to connect residents with supportive services such as available shelter beds, engagement with housing navigators and mental/behavior health service providers. 

"Each person experiencing homelessness has their own unique set of circumstances, but addiction and mental health conditions are common contributors to chronic homelessness, requiring a distinct response to meet their particular needs," said Tameka Laird, director of Louisville Metro Office of Resilience and Community Services in a statement.  “Louisville Metro Government, along with our numerous partners, are continually working on innovative approaches to build capacity in our outreach network, and to better address gaps and barriers.”

The city has partnered with The Healing Place to start a pilot program with 12 beds for men and women, a case manager and four peer support workers. The city is also partnering with Seven Counties Services to provide two peer supports who will be able to respond within an hour to connect clients with services and to conduct mental health and substance abuse assessments. Louisville Metro has expanded its partnership with Wellspring to provide additional peer support and support outreach for mental health support. And, Wayside Christian Mission is expanding its shelter bed capacity.

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