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Downtown Louisville homeless camps cleared out following 21-day notice

Outreach officials said the clear-out was a "success" but stressed the need for more resources for the homeless community.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Around 40 people were cleared out of homeless camps in downtown Louisville Wednesday morning. Of those, outreach officials said 16 are now being cared for at local shelters.

People living in a six to eight-block perimeter around the I-65 overpass near Slugger Field were notified three weeks ago that the camps would be removed because the area had become unsafe and unsanitary. The deadline to leave the area was Oct. 5, before crews began cleaning the next morning.

Tameka Laird, the director for the Louisville Metro Office of Resilience and Community Services, said the clearing went "very well" thanks to the work of several community outreach organizations.

"Today showed the unity within our organizations and showed the strategic planning of how we can operate if we work together," Laird said.

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Laird said these outreach groups - like The Healing Place, Seven Counties Services and Wayside Christian Mission - focus on creating relationships with people dealing with homelessness. Whether the people choose to go to a shelter or not, establishing trust is the key to getting them help.

"We don't know where they will go, but we hope that by us continuing to actually reach out to them...they will continue to come in," she said.

Laird said the "Safe Outdoor Space," part of the city's four-part plan to address homelessness, is still in the development process. A panel is looking at applications for an operator of the space and while her team is hoping to expedite the process, she said every step will have to be approved by Metro Council.

Jennifer Clark with St. Vincent De Paul said they have had success with helping people transition out of encampments. However, Clark said having more affordable housing and support for those transitioning is needed. 

"You can imagine moving into an apartment from an encampment, you don't have furniture, you don't have clean clothes, you don't have food, you may not have transportation," she said. "So, when you're initially put in that apartment there are a lot of wrap-around services they may need in order to stay stable."

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Tiny Herron, the coordinator of outreach for NuLease Medical Solutions, said Wednesday's clearing was one of the best she's seen in her twenty years of work, especially because of how many people accepted help.

"Success to me is even if it's one person," she said.

Herron said her first priority in helping the homeless community is to treat them like humans, making sure their basic needs are met. She said volunteers offered help to everyone - whether they wanted to go to a shelter or if they just needed help packing their belongings.

While the city of Louisville is full of resources, Herron said the key is bringing those services to the ones who need them rather than waiting for people to reach out.

If you would like to help with providing those transitioning wit everyday essential items like toilet paper or laundry detergent. You can donate them at St. Vincent De Paul. Click here for more information. 

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