More than a dozen homeless residents of the Campbell Camp in Butchertown were forced to flee amid the threat of flooding recently. The site is set to become the home of the upcoming Louisville City Football Club’s $50 million, 10,000-seat stadium, so they would have had to leave soon regardless of the extreme weather.
Stadium construction is scheduled to begin in late summer, pending results of the TIF, or tax increment financing, according to Louisville City FC officials.
On Feb. 15, city officials posted a 21-day notice alerting residents that the camp would soon be cleared, said Natalie Harris, executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless.
This week, owners of the football club announced they would donate about $17,000 toward two months of housing and transitional costs for Campbell Camp’s displaced residents.
Harris said those funds could make a difference as her organization helps people through the process of applying for federal housing vouchers, which can take up to two-and-a-half months. But first, Coalition workers and volunteers need to find all the displaced people.
“The outreach teams have been keeping up with that, where people have moved to and from,” Harris said. “We meet tomorrow to try to make sure … all the case managers that are working with those people actually do have contact with them.”
The Thursday meeting, at the Coalition for the Homeless offices, will convene a committee of Mayor Greg Fischer’s homelessness task force, she said. The group will work to figure out logistics, including where it can find affordable, monthly bookings at local hotels for the displaced homeless, as well as the plan for locating the beneficiaries and getting them to the hotels.
The donated funds will function as sort of a bridge to cover costs while people wait to get the long-term affordable housing vouchers, Harris said. Most of the vouchers they’re applying for are for people who have been homeless for more than a year, or four times in three years. Those people must also be disabled, she said.
This is the first time that the Coalition will attempt to place all the residents of a camp in housing, Harris said.
When people live on the streets, it can be hard to stay in contact with them throughout the months-long process often required to get into an apartment, she said.
“This will make it much easier and smoother,” she said of the donation. “A lot of these people have serious health issues, they’ve been out on the street for quite a while so hopefully this will make sure that people are safe during that time as well.”
There’s an element of serendipity at play, too: At the moment, the Coalition has new grant funding that will allow it to procure about 60 housing vouchers — many more than usual.
The organization on average helps six people get vouchers, Harris said, so it would be able to cover former Campbell Camp residents as well as other people who are homeless around Louisville.
But it would be hard to help so many people at once in the future because the Coalition usually doesn’t have access to so many vouchers, Harris said.
“It would work much better with somebody who’s been long-term in a camp in smaller numbers, like an individual or a couple,” she said.
The Coalition sometimes gets interest from private property owners who want to help homeless people move from their properties, Harris said. She said she thinks there are other property owners who may be interested in contributing to this type of solution, rather than simply forcing people out.
There are about 150 people sleeping on the streets each night in Louisville, Harris said.