Amanda Mills drove through Louisville’s quiet streets very early Thursday morning. It was the Coalition for the Homeless’ annual homeless street count, and Mills was prepared, despite the freezing weather and 4 a.m. rallying time.
She’s worked with Louisville’s homeless population for seven years as part of the Family Health Center’s medical clinic. At one point, she was homeless, too.
“Before they were homeless, most of them had successful lives or people that were on their team, so to speak,” Mills said. “And at the end of the day, they just want the same things we want out of life: love and support. And housing.”
Armed with flashlights, Mills and four other volunteers crunched through frosted grass, trees and branches in search of people sleeping in their tents near the Ohio River. It was cold and dark, as they called out for people.
When they found someone, Mills would take down information, offer supplies and then move on. The annual count is important, because organizations use the numbers to request funding.
Several different organizations worked to count the homeless Thursday morning, and Wellspring program manager Matthew Hellmich said most of them have a shared goal.
“If there’s a value everybody out here shares this morning, I’d certainly think it’s a desire for a passionate and inclusive society,” he said. “Everybody deserves housing.”
By the time the count was over, the group had found nine people.
Back in her car, Mills said the volunteers’ ultimate goal was to work themselves out of a job – to make sure there are no more homeless people in Louisville. This is a steep goal, but Mills said there are a lot of organizations around to help.
“When I first started, I was like, ‘man, these people — there’s a lot of people,’” she said. “You don’t realize. So — makes you feel good.”