City leaders announce four-phase plan to transition unsheltered from streets to sustainable housing

July 28, 2021

Louisville Metro Government (LMG) leaders today provided updates on plans to help transition residents who are unsheltered from the streets and into stable housing, potentially by leveraging American Rescue Plan funds.

Today’s sessions with advocates for residents who are unsheltered and business leaders, led by LMG Chief of Community Building Vincent James and facilitated by the Office for Performance Improvement, focused on the city’s development of a four-phase plan to address chronic street homelessness through immediate, intermediate, and long-term solutions:

  • A pilot initiative to establish and manage an area that would provide a Safe Outdoor Space, including supportive wrap-around services designed to help people experiencing homelessness to find more sustainable housing.
  • A transitional housing effort, potentially in a hotel/motel setting, offering a quick transition to indoor housing within a safe, supportive, and client-centered environment. 
  • More permanent supportive housing options, developed in partnership with service providers.
  • Increased funding for affordable housing.

James said the city’s plan is a holistic, integrated approach based on research and best practices implemented in other communities.

“Our intention anytime we encounter a person experiencing homelessness is to get them off the street, into a shelter and on a path to permanent, supportive housing. But there is no one-size-fits-all solution,” James said. “Instead, we will continue working with partners, including the Coalition for the Homeless, on a multi-step strategy to provide shelter and services designed to lead to stabilization and self-sufficiency.”

That message was shared today in two sessions – one for homeless advocates and service providers, and another for business leaders. Mayor Greg Fischer’s team, in partnership with Metro Council, asked both groups for their input and support as implementation of the four-phase plan gets under way, starting with the safe outdoor space initiative.

Mayor Fischer expressed his gratitude to advocates and other community partners, and noted that a number of people who’ve weighed in on how the city’s ARP funds should be used have cited addressing homelessness and affordable housing as top priorities. “A compassionate city looks out for its most vulnerable residents, and this plan can lead to the results that residents and business leaders demand, and that everyone, including those unsheltered, deserve,” Mayor Fischer said. '

“We’re looking forward to working closely with the dedicated homeless advocates, compassionate nonprofits, and business partners to effectively address what is a tremendous challenge for cities across the nation. These initiatives require resources, and we will be talking with the community and Metro Council on the potential use of federal ARP funding to support this plan.”

21-day notices resume

Also during today’s sessions, city officials shared that, as work continues to implement the Safe Outdoor Space initiative, the city will start assessing encampments, using a standardized risk assessment tool this week.  The risk assessments will measure a comprehensive array of factors used to drive decision-making related with the intensity of service provision offered and postings of 21-day notices. Decisions involving any 21-day notice posting will be based on risk involving health and safety concerns.

During the 21-day period following the notice, the city will accelerate its ongoing coordination with advocates and social services organizations to offer shelter and provide outreach services to the affected unsheltered residents. The 21-day notices are a requirement under the city's Homeless Protection Ordinance, which aims to give those who are unsheltered an opportunity to work with community partners for relocation options and housing solutions.  The 21-day notices only apply to encampments located on public property.

During the height of the COVID pandemic, the city observed shelter-in-place guidelines – cleaning but not clearing, in order to mitigate the spread of the virus and to help facilitate the distribution of vaccines. Since then, conditions at several camps have deteriorated, creating health and safety concerns. Such concerns – many of which come from the public through  Metro311 – are forwarded to the Louisville Metro Core Assessment team, made up of representatives of the Office of Resilience and Community Services (RCS), Public Health and Wellness, Public Works, and LMPD. This team, along with non-profit and volunteer outreach groups, then provide targeted outreach to camp residents to connect them with supportive services, such as available emergency shelter beds, behavioral and mental health counseling, direct medical care treatment, drug and alcohol recovery centers, and/or housing navigation resources and case management options.

Today’s update complements other work that LMG has initiated in recent years to address street homelessness – including its Homelessness Task Force, the Louisville Metro-funded Unsheltered Homeless Initiatives, and just recently, addition of a Homeless Services Division with RCS, which provides administrative support.

For more information about unsheltered homeless initiatives and the new Homeless Services Division, visit louisvilleky.gov/RCS.

 

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