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Homeless protection ordinance goes to Metro Council for vote

It calls for a risk assessment of the city's homeless before they are removed from a camp.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Metro Council Public Safety Committee gave the green light for an amendment to the city's homeless ordinance.

It calls for a risk assessment of the city's homeless before a 21-day notice is issued to relocate a camp. The ordinance says no department or employee can remove or displace a homeless person until an assessment is taken of the camp and its relationship with the surrounding neighborhood. That assessment will determine if there is a risk to public health or safety, and must be done within 10 days of the initial notification of the camp. 

“The risk assessment will factor in everting from specific locations, p[proximity to schools, bust stops, community centers, churches," District 21 Councilwoman Nicole George said. 

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George and District 4's Jecorey Arthur proposed the amendments. George said it will give new clarity to the clearing process. 

“The purpose of what was introduced is not to inspire more camp relocations, the purpose of the ordinance is to ensure we have a layer of protection," she said. 

The city's Office of Resilience and Community service said it began using a new risk assessment tool this summer. The tool provides a rubric for assessment of camps. George said by adding a requirement for the assessments, the process will become more deliberate. 

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“I hope it brings consistency, again what we want to see is standardized decision making," she said. 

The changes would also require RCS to notify the metro councilperson who represents the area where the camp is located, as well as organizations in the area like neighborhood associations and community groups. 

Jeremiah Roberts with the Healing Place has been working as a homeless outreach coordinator, and said the notifications will help coordinate resources for the people being relocated. 

“I really feel like the more people that are involved and willing to extend that helping hand will only benefit those individuals," he said. “We're out in the field every day trying to build those relationships and talk with those people, not just at the camps that were immediately cleared, but also at the camps that may be on that list.”

The measure now heads to the full council for a vote. George expects that to happen next week. 

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