Community

Louisville will get four low-barrier shelters supported by city funding, which are aimed at helping people who cannot get into standard homeless shelters for a number of reasons.

Council members and advocates have called for the low-barrier shelters to get people off the streets during the winter months. Those with partners, families, pets or substance issues often are not allowed in other shelters.

In its last session of 2018, the Metro Council voted to allocate more than half a million dollars of surplus funding to boost services for the homeless. That came with the condition that a proposal for how the funds would be used had to be submitted by Jan. 2, and that services would be available on Jan. 14.

Councilman Bill Hollander of District 9, who led the effort to allocate mid-year surplus city funds to address the city’s homeless, said a permanent plan will be presented to the council in April.

The challenges facing people experiencing homelessness are varied, Hollander said. The proposal released Wednesday addresses some of them.

“It will help get some people experiencing homelessness off of our streets,” Hollander said. “It addresses families, it addresses men, it addresses women, it provides shelter, food, storage and services to get people into better solutions.”

The groups receiving funding for emergency shelter are The Healing Place, Wayside Christian Mission, Volunteers of America, and St. Stephen Baptist Church. St. Johns Day Center will provide storage facilities for individuals’ belongings, and will also work with Uniting Partners for Women and Children to manage an outreach team to help people get into the permanent housing.

A breakdown of services and spending provided by the mayor’s office showed that the proposal could help a couple hundred individuals. In 2017, nearly 6,700 individuals in Louisville experienced homelessness, according to the Coalition for the Homeless.

Eric Friedlander, the chief resilience officer for Louisville Metro, said the funded programs could get more people into permanent homes.

“The hope is that as we get people into shelter, that they’ll be able to access services better so that there will be some transition, more transition to permanent housing,” he said.

But Friedlander acknowledged that the funds do not comprehensively address the situation that some describe as a “crisis” for those experiencing homelessness, even for a short time. For example, the money does not allow for people in wheelchairs or with other complex medical needs to be cared for in shelters, nor would it cover a city-sponsored homeless encampment. It also cannot pay for transportation for individuals.

Here is what organizations plan to provide while funding is available, through June 2019:

  • The Healing Place: Temporary emergency shelter during the winter months, with capacity to serve 24 men a day and access to detox and other services starting on Jan. 14. 1019 W. Market St.
  • Wayside Christian Mission: Round-the-clock low-barrier shelter with space for up to 100 individuals in couples, families, men and women, and with pets. The shelter will accept non-violent individuals under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Open now. 432 E. Jefferson St.
  • Volunteers of America: Shelter for 10 families at Hotel Louisville (120 W. Broadway), as well as services including rental and utilities assistance and Rapid Rehousing, which is available now.
  • St. Johns Day Center: Storage facility management at 431 E. Liberty St. The Center will work with United Partners for Women and Children to create an outreach team to help individuals get into permanent housing.
Amina Elahi is WFPL's City Reporter.