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'There's nowhere for them to go:' Homeless camps cleared days before Derby, advocates say

According to the city, camps have been removed from more than 15 locations since mid-April.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Advocates say every year around the Kentucky Derby, Louisville clears homeless camps, leaving the people with nowhere to go.

There were no clearings scheduled for this week, according to the city. However, since April 13, 2023, camps were removed from more than 15 locations mostly along I-65.

In a statement, Mayor Craig Greenberg's Press Secretary, Kevin Trager said the administration assesses homeless encampments throughout the year. 

"High-risk encampments with individuals living near busy roadways and interstates are prioritized for relocation based on the safety risk to those individuals," Trager said.

"It's a lie. It's just a bold face lie," Ronnie Morris, a member of Vocal Kentucky, said.

RELATED: Homelessness in Louisville increased 139% this year

 Morris argues the city isn't relocating people, it's displacing them.

"There's nowhere for them to go to because you keep pushing and pushing and pushing," he said. 

While houseless, Morris said he lost shelter and belongings each time his tent was moved for Derby. He says many are also left on the streets because shelters are full and services aren't available. 

Morris said if leaders really wanted to keep people safe, they wouldn't try to hide the truth. 

"They're just hurting people along because they want us to look like 'Hey we don't have problems,' well, we do have problems," he said."Do you not think that other states these tourists come from don't have homeless individuals?"

Trager points out Greenberg's first budget proposal sets aside $27 million to help fight the growing housing crisis. 

More support will go to the Hope Village for their work to bridge the gap. 

Greenberg is also planning to invest in the Another Way program-- which provides homeless Louisvillians with opportunities to work, earn a paycheck, and get connected with resources. 

Officials say the city also plans to purchase the buildings of the old Watson Lane Elementary School and repurpose them for affordable housing.

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