LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The final piece of Louisville’s project to address homelessness is in place. The temporary storage lockers have been assembled and are already in use.
“In spite of all the challenges, the people that need a safe place to put their belongings while they’re experiencing homelessness make it easy for us all along the way to stay focused and continue this work,” Maria Price, the Director of St. John Center for Homeless Men, said at the grand opening for the locker facility.
The goal of the lockers is to give those experiencing homelessness a safe place to store their belongings. Those individuals can then pursue opportunities to go to job interviews, work or visit friends and family without fear their things will be gone when they return. The ultimate goal of the lockers is to help them find permanent housing.
“Until everyone in Louisville has appropriate housing, so that they can store their important belongings in closets and cupboards or under the bed, we’re going to need a place like this. So, this is not ideal, but we hope that this is a help,” Price said.
Councilmember Barbara Sexton Smith called Metro Council’s decision to fund the homeless project with the budget surplus one of the best votes the council has ever taken.
“We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers and we must find a way to be empathic and help those that need help,” Sexton Smith said.
So far, 38 people have used the lockers, and they are expected to be at capacity by April. Of those individuals, some are veterans, some have chronic health conditions, and some have experienced domestic violence.
Louisville’s Chief Resilience Officer Eric Friedlander is focused on the positive changes that have been made in the community to address the needs of the homeless.
“This is the beginning of helping folks understand that they are important. Their needs are important to our community and to us, and we need to continue to demonstrate that.”
Billy, a man who has been using the lockers, called them a blessing. He said everyone likes to feel like they have a safe place and that they matter. To a community who is often forgotten and neglected, lockers and low barrier shelters can make a world of difference.
“This is like a blessing for the community who isn’t a part of the community or feels like they’re not a part of the community,” Billy said.
Unfortunately, there is some uncertainty in the funding of the project moving forward. There is currently no money committed to funding this project after June 30.
“The reality is this, there is no guaranteed money going forward. With Metro Council’s recent vote, it’s going to be really hard to figure out how to fund this in the future. So, we’ll need help from community partners, we’ll need help from volunteers, and we’ll need to make sure that Metro Council knows how important this is, and we need to figure out how to fund it,” Friedlander said.
The lockers are located at 431 East Liberty St. They are open Monday, 7 AM – 1 PM, Tuesday 11 AM – 5 PM, Wednesday, 7 AM – 1 PM, Thursday 11 AM – 5 PM, and Saturday 7 AM – 1 PM.