LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Local homeless outreach groups are questioning why they were not notified before a city sweep cleared a homeless camp, removing personal belongings of about 20 homeless people.
The city agencies responsible said they did notify some people days before the sweep, and sent an email to the Coalition for the Homeless. But some claim that message was never delivered to the groups that work directly with the homeless population.
It's city-owned property, underneath I-64, near the river in Portland and until Thursday it was home to about 20 of Louisville's homeless people.
"They came back to their camp and everything was gone. Bulldozed gone, tents gone, backpacks gone, entire food supply, heat source,” Christen Herron said.
Herron leads The Forgotten Louisville, one of several local outreach organizations that work hand in hand with the homeless. She describes a difficult weekend, after the camp was torn down and those who lived there left with nothing.
Herron said, "Those are things that are not only someone's home but they are also resources that the community has given to these outreach organizations that are doing the footwork in our city."
She said the sweep came without warning and her agency was never given the opportunity to help the homeless move their belongings. She was also concerned about all of the donations that were destroyed right before the first freeze of the season.
The city agency behind the bulldozing said it doesn't have to issue warnings but did as a courtesy.
"We talked to everybody on Tuesday just to give them a heads up,” LMPD’s Christina Brown said.
Brown said she was at the camp days before the sweep, inspecting it with Codes and Regulations after getting a complaint.
"From a safety standpoint, it’s very dangerous,” Brown said.
Officials said uncapped needles and human waste littered the area.
It wasn't safe for those living there or those passing by on the nearby walking trail so Solid Waste Management worked with Codes and Regulations and LMPD to clear the camp.
"We didn't say ‘Hey, get out, we're coming in.’ We let them do whatever they could, help each other to move, and when they said they were done that's when we went in with solid waste management and they took all of the trash,” Brown said.
She said police also emailed the Coalition for the Homeless to get word out of the sweep. Local agencies claim that message was never passed on to them and perhaps that was the problem.
"It’s heartbreaking,” Herron said.
Herron and other local outreach groups say they are still working to locate the people who used to live on the camp that was cleaned out. With temperatures dropping quickly, they consider it a top priority.
They are also working to replenish all lost items for those who need them.
If you would like to help the local outreach groups you can visit their Facebook pages to find lists of needed items.