Homeless Louisville will soon move to a safe outdoor space

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – The City of Louisville plans to open its own outdoor homeless camp by the end of March, where people unable to find housing can stay in tents and receive food and other services on a temporary basis.

Metro leaders visited Denver’s safe outdoor space to brainstorm ideas for the city’s own “Hope Village.” The aim of the project is to help homeless people find permanent accommodation.

To stay in the safe outdoor space, individuals must be referred by a city partner organization or nonprofit.

“The people we want to serve here are the people who are absolutely ready to transition and ready for the next step, whatever the next step is for them,” the Reverend Stachelle Bussey, founder of Hope Buss, said Thursday.

The secure outdoor space, located at 212 East College St., formerly owned by the Archdiocese of Louisville, will have 48 large tents and enough space to “house” 53 people. The site will have individual electrical outlets, mobile showers, toilets and wrap-around services for those wishing to find permanent accommodation.

When people are ready, they can move from their tents to the building on the property, which the city has spent $7.5 million to convert into “transit housing,” where homeless people can stay until they find permanent accommodation.

“Creating an outdoor space is not a substitute for shelter,” said Dr. Susan Buchino, director of Louisville’s homeless services division. “As a harm reduction approach, it mitigates the risks associated with homelessness by meeting people where they are.”

The city paid about $3 million for the property on E College St. in August 2021 and planned to open the area in November 2021, but Mayor Greg Fischer said he encountered numerous supply chain issues that have delayed the project.

Barring inclement weather or additional supply chain delays, Hope Village will open on March 31.

“They come here for the security and stability, and we want it to feel as much like home as possible,” Bussey said. “We call it the Hope Village for a reason, because the village isn’t just here, it’s all of us, all of us together.”

The City of Louisville has spent a total of $89 million from the U.S. bailout on safe outdoor space, as well as creating affordable housing options to address homelessness across the city.

Hope Village staff will work with Norton Healthcare, UofL Health, and Jefferson Community & Technical College to provide on-site security 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Anyone staying in the village must wear an identification badge and return to the property before 10:00 p.m. each evening.

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