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'Housing is a human right': Louisville's Coalition for the Homeless releases new plan

‘A New Path Home: Funding Solutions to End Homelessness,’ calls for more funding for shelters, affordable housing, medical centers and eviction prevention.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville's Coalition for the Homeless released a new plan to end houselessness in the metro.

The nonprofit announced the plan, ‘A New Path Home: Funding Solutions to End Homelessness,’ on Monday; it calls for more funding for shelters, affordable housing, medical centers and eviction prevention.

The plan stems from a report the coalition released in April 2022, which found that between 2018 and 2021, there was a 41% increase in the number of people experiencing houselessness.

Shameka Parrish-Wright, executive director of VOCAL-KY, is proud to now also serve on the board for the coalition.

“Keeping people housed makes our city better,” she said. “It creates more opportunity. Housing is a human right."

Step one of the four-pronged plan would create 375 more daily shelter options to fill the gap between the number of beds available now and the number of people sleeping on the streets daily. The coalition reports that Louisville currently has 750-850 shelter spots, but nearly 1,200 experience houselessness every night. 

The additional shelter options would be created through a ‘Right to Shelter’ ordinance. In year one, $8 million would be spent on a 24/7 shelter for 200 people. Annually, the ordinance would commit $7.5 million for 175 new short-term options.

“You cannot start to deal with your homeless population or your homeless issue if you don't have places where people can go and be safe,” Parrish-Wright said.

The second step would fund affordable housing by establishing a revenue stream of $187.5 million every year for the next eight years for extremely low-income housing. 

The coalition reports that Louisville needs 31,000 affordable housing units. The plan would also encourage businesses to donate and leverage local dollars for up to $562.6 million in federal matching dollars.

Parrish-Wright points to struggling landlords who would benefit by renting affordable units.

“I’m in the Heyburn and it's more than half empty,” she said.

Step three includes funding for 45 medical respite beds for newly discharged unhoused patients. The coalition plans to leverage state, federal funding and Medicaid reimbursement while also working with Norton and UofL Hospital and Family Health Centers. There is no determined cost yet.

“A lot of people who are homeless or don't have a place to go end up going back to the emergency room because they get sick, they get reinjured, their wound may become infected,” Parrish-Wright said.

The last step of the new plan would dedicate at least $16 million annually for eviction prevention.

“If we don't fund this, if we don't make sure it has the resources it needs, our homeless population is going to double,” Parrish-Wright said.

Thursday, Mayor Craig Greenberg plans to announce steps his administration is taking to help address houselessness in the city. He’s said he will introduce a new program that will get eviction prevention funding directly into the hands of those who need it most.

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