Louisville Safe Outdoor Space Village of Hope Opens Soon for the Homeless

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UPDATE: A spokeswoman for the Office of Resilience and Community Services said that as of March 31, the outdoor space was not open due to “supply chain delays.”

“Progress is still being made on Hope Village and we will let everyone know when it is ready to open,” spokeswoman Julia Dake told The Courier Journal in an email.

The original story is below.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A city-sanctioned “safe outdoor space” for more than 50 homeless residents in Louisville will soon open after months of preparation and delays.

Officials and advocates hope the aptly named The Hope Village is a step towards finding a permanent way to get people off the streets.

The Hope Village is expected to open by March 31 barring additional weather or supply chain issues that prevented the city from opening the site as planned last year, leaders said Thursday. of Louisville while at the new site.

Hope Village’s name is linked to the local non-profit association The Bus of Hope that city leaders chose to operate the new space at 212 E. College St. between Brook and Floyd streets near downtown and Old Louisville.

“Be patient with us,” Stachelle Bussey, an ordained minister who founded the nonprofit in 2018, said Thursday while at the site. “Be patient with The Hope Buss. Be patient with Metro as we all explore ways to create alternatives for people living on the streets in our city.”

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What The Hope Village will offer

The new outdoor space will include 48 insulated tents that can accommodate up to 53 people, pets allowed.

Resources from social service providers will also be available on site.

Residents must receive a recommendation to move into the new space, with partner organizations evaluating applications “based on the individual’s ability to thrive in a community environment,” according to a city press release.

“The purpose of this project is to provide a place where people who are not ready to seek shelter indoors can continue to live temporarily outdoors, but in a safe environment with better access to resources and facilities. service,” Fischer said.

Each resident will receive a Hope Village ID card to access the site and identify themselves to staff.

Security will be on site, along with security cameras and lighting in common areas. Bussey said his group would coordinate with Louisville Metro Police and nearby hospitals.

Mobile showers, portable toilets, hand washing stations, access to electricity and a food distribution area, as well as a trailer where staff will work to welcome residents are among the facilities also planned. .

Additional services may be added after residents move in, according to Fischer and the Office of Resilience and Community Serviceswhich coordinates the city’s work around homelessness.

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Tents, beds and plumbing are all ready for the new space, with seven tents set up Thursday for reporters and officials to enter and check in, but much of the space was clearly still in progress.

Crews were removing trees Thursday afternoon to help staff have room to repair fences and install a windbreak, according to Susan Buchino, director of the city’s homeless services division.

Blue Clam C-560 thermal shelter tents (also popular for those into ice fishing) at the site are “definitely not your average Walmart tent,” Bussey said, with plenty of insulation to keep locals warm in the colder months and the space for several people.

Why officials chose the College Street location

The College Street location, officials have previously said, is ideal as it is close to blocks from social service providers such as the Salvation Army, Franciscan Kitchen and Wellspring and near several former camps that the city has cleaned up.

It also already had a large covered area that could be used to serve meals and a three-story building that could be renovated for indoor cooking and showers, officials said.

Metro Council members also approved $7.5 million to convert a vacant building on College Street into furnished housing.

The Hope Buss has a million dollar contract to operate the space for a year, with an option to continue the program after the pilot period ends.

What amenities homeless residents will receive

At the new outdoor space for homeless residents, some of The Hope Buss resources and the partnersas Dare to take care of the food bank, Coalition for the Homeless and Sourcewill provide mental health resources, hot meals, 24/7 on-site health care, COVID screenings, HIV prevention, addictions support, case management, job training and the safety of the people who live there and their property.

About 12 to 15 residents will have the chance to earn money by also working on the site, Bussey said.

Fischer previously said the city plans to eventually invest in “more robust infrastructure,” including “semi-permanent housing structures,” lighting and bathroom facilities.

“Hopefully in 10 years we won’t be staying here in this place…because this Village of Hope will turn into permanent housing,” said Dare to Care President and CEO Vincent James.

Louisville’s Plan to Address Homelessness

The Hope Village is part of the city’s four-pronged approach to homelessness that leaders said last year included $89 million of Louisville’s $388 million U.S. bailout.

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The other three components include the creation of transitional housing, possibly in a hotel or motel, more permanent supportive housing options that are developed in partnership with service providers, and more funding for affordable housing.

When announcing the new secure outdoor space last summer, city leaders said it was expected to cost around $3 million to own, renovate and operate, with the original goal of opening it in November. latest.

Advocates helping unsheltered residents also wondered if a new safe outdoor space would result in the clearing of more camps elsewhere in Louisville and the constant displacement of people who can’t find spaces in the College Street sanctioned area.

Buchino, the city’s director of homeless services, acknowledged at a meeting of the Homeless Camps Task Force last week that while clearings were halted in the winter due to colder weather, a camp at an unspecified location was due to be cleared this week after authorities gave residents 21 days notice.

If further clearances take place in the coming weeks, particularly ahead of the Kentucky Derby, displaced residents cannot simply come to The Hope Village unless they have a referral, said Angel Todd, director of operations. by The Hope Buss.

“A lot of what we ask is that the people who are referred to The Hope Village are people who, on the one hand, want to be there and are ready to receive the services and the impact that we have. prepared for them,” Todd mentioned.

Louisville leaders said programs involving a safe, designated area where people living outdoors can stay have seen success in cities such as denver and Santa Rosa, California.

Other cities, like the California capital of Sacramentoto have hit some roadblocks trying to open additional spaces.

Todd and Bussey said The Hope Village could still use more staff and volunteers in the new outdoor space.

How you can help

Those interested in volunteering at Hope Village can register at thehopevillage.com.

Contact Billy Kobin at [email protected]