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Dozens of houseless people move back outside after winter storm

Feed Louisville, in partnership with the city, temporarily housed people in hotels during the worst of last week's winter weather.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — After last week's winter storm, dozens of Louisvillians experiencing homelessness are moving back to camps and shelters across the city. 

This winter, the city launched a Winter Shelter Relief Program in partnership with Feed Louisville.

Dr. Susan Buchino, director of the Metro Office of Resilience and Community Services’ Homeless Services Division, said the program "prioritizes assistance to the most fragile and most vulnerable residents living on the streets during emergency inclement weather." 

Feed Louisville co-founder Donny Greene said it allowed them to put more than 100 people in hotel rooms during the storm. 

“Even if it's just for a few days, it makes a huge difference in someone’s life in terms of what we can do with resources," Greene said. 

Greene said the money for the rooms was made possible by the RCS and Councilman Jecorey Arthur. But it couldn't last forever. 

"People get really excited when they find out they’re coming to a hotel and they’re going to have a place to stay, our phones ring off the hook, and we very quickly run out of rooms and money," Greene said. 

On Feb. 11, Greene and the Feed Louisville team moved houseless residents out of hotel rooms at a Fairdale hotel, and back to camps scattered across the city. 

“I wish there were more people like them because maybe there would be less homelessness," Mark Hankins, who is currently houseless, said. 

Hankins said it was a relief to come inside for the last week. He said he's healing from an ankle injury after his tent was dragged by a car that popped a curb a few months ago. 

“It takes a lot out of you because I’ve seen people die out here," he said. 

Greene said while people were staying in hotels, Feed Louisville connected them with housing, mental health and medical resources. 

They also bought new tents, sleeping bags, shoes and other supplies for people, before returning them to camps.

“We need more empathy, we need more long-term care," Greene said. 

Greene said he is encouraged by the city's commitment to spend millions in ARP funding for housing resources but believes it may not be enough. 

“I believe that long-term investment has a much higher dollar figure and is going to require a lot more resources than we’re planning for or that we currently have available," he said.

Hankins packed up his new shoes and tent on Feb. 11 and got a ride to a place to shelter.

"People are quick to judge but it could happen to anybody," he said. “Some of us are trying. We just want a chance.”

Contact reporter Grace McKenna at gmckenna@whas11.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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