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City to clear downtown Louisville homeless encampment this week, open new shelter next week

The Office of Resilience and Community Services told WHAS11 News that it’s optimistic the Hope Village will soon open.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Metro Government plans to clear a homeless encampment in downtown Louisville on Friday, while also preparing to open a new shelter next week for people experiencing homelessness.

Friday, the homeless encampment between Brook and Floyd on East Jefferson in downtown Louisville will be cleared. The city posted flyers on March 24; a resident shared it with WHAS11 News.

The Office of Resilience and Community Services told WHAS11 that it’s optimistic the Hope Village will soon open. Spokesperson Debbie Belt said weather and supply chain issues have held up the opening.

Tiny Herron, founder of The Forgotten Louisville, a homeless outreach organization, said she appreciates the city's effort to get real advice from people like her.

"I'm very excited about it, Herron said. “It's something new that the city has never done. Being able to have them come and want the opinions of, and the expertise from, individuals that are in the community doing the footwork to figure out ways to best serve the community has been very impressive to me."

The Hope Village will be equipped with 48 tents and several resources to help people get on their feet.

The center will accept people in a referral-only basis and will not decline people based on drug or alcohol use, though it won't be allowed on the property.

Courtney Weisshaupt, detox manager at The Healing Place in Louisville, an organization that helps people in recovery, said the center also recently started housing people experiencing homelessness.

"It's an exciting opportunity to help more people in our community,” Weisshaupt said.

She said though camps will continue being cleared in the city, she's glad to see more resources, like the Hope Village, easing the burden.

"We're being more intentional about providing services for these folks,” Weisshaupt said.

Herron agrees, and said in all her years in outreach, the city has made great strides in helping people who lived in the camps after its cleared.

“In all of my years of doing this, the last encampment clearing that we had with the city was a very smooth transition in regard to everyone being serviced with services,” Herron said.

Herron said it’s unfortunate that in about a week following an encampment clearing, most people return to the streets. She said it’s hard to keep track of people to continue her outreach work and provide services they received during that week.

However, both Herron and Weisshaupt said it's about meeting people where they are.

“Some feedback that we got from the beginning is that the importance of building the trust with folks and that trust is not just going to be instant the moment we walk into the camp,” Weisshaupt said. “We want to build rapport and relationships with these folks and let them know that we are here to help.”

"We've had several people that have expressed the concern: ‘I want to be the first person in the village,’ Herron explained.” And then I've had some that say, ‘yes, I'm interested,’ and then you go back the next week and check and , ‘no, I’m not ready to do that yet,’ and that's okay."

But, Herron said she glad to know that for those who are ready to take that step, there are more resources available.

In a statement released Wednesday, the Hope Village said:

The Hope Village is aware that the City of Louisville announced plans to clear a homeless camp on Good Friday this week. While we are diligently working to get things ready for our future Village residents, we want to reiterate a few things we've mentioned previously. The Village will accept residents on a referral basis only. The City's plans to clear camps, as they do often, will not impact or affect our operations. Louisville has been in the middle of a housing crisis for years, and the Village will serve as a bridge for our houseless neighbors, not a permanent solution. The Village also has limited capacity in that we can only serve 50-60 residents at any one time. Louisville's homeless population currently is greater than our capacity to serve, but we are looking forward to working with the City in alleviating root causes of homelessness.

As has been stated, due to the weather and supply chain demands, the opening of the Village has been delayed, but progress is being made daily and we are excited to open our doors very soon.

► Contact reporter Bobbi McSwine at BMcSwine@whas11.com or on Facebook or Twitter  

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