Louisville Metro identifies property to pilot Safe Outdoor Space for unsheltered residents
Louisville Metro Government will purchase the property at 212 E. College St. and pilot a Safe Outdoor Space where individuals experiencing homelessness can live temporarily, secure their belongings and access supportive wrap-around services. In the future, the property could become a site for affordable housing.
Louisville Metro has agreed to purchase the property for $1.6 million and estimates it will cost $1.4 million to outfit and operate the site for Safe Outdoor Space use.
“As a compassionate city, our goal is to help those who are living in unsafe and unhealthy situations on our streets transition into more stable shelter and then put them onto a path to permanent, supportive housing,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “The Safe Outdoor Space will provide another shelter option for individuals who’ve repeatedly declined indoor shelter despite the encouragement from our outreach teams.”
Once the purchase of 212 E. College St. is complete and an operating manager is in place, residents will be allowed to set up tents, while the city works on constructing semipermanent shelter and shared bathrooms, including showers. Portable toilet and shower facilities will be on-site until a permanent structure is built. Residents will be allowed to have pets at the site.
Louisville Metro is issuing a Notice of Funding Availability to identify an operating manager to oversee the Safe Outdoor Space and provide the necessary safety and social services personnel. The goal is to have healthcare and housing navigation on-site, as well as personnel who can connect individuals to other nearby social services providers.
At the same time, the city will look into the potential of developing affordable housing at the site. “We know that we cannot make real progress to end homelessness without more affordable housing,” the Mayor said.
The Safe Outdoor Space is part of a multipronged approach announced in July for creating shelter and housing for individuals experiencing homelessness. In addition to the outdoor space, Louisville Metro is working to identify transitional indoor housing and more permanent supportive housing options, as well as increasing funding for affordable housing.
“This is a good beginning step in assisting our citizens who are experiencing homelessness,” said Metro Council President David James.
"The only solution to houselessness is housing. Until we address our 31,000+ housing gap for families at the bottom, we need every possible option for safe, transitional shelter. This space is one of those options,” said District 4 Councilman Jecorey Arthur, whose district will house the Safe Outdoor Space.
Homelessness and affordable housing were identified as the top priorities for spending the city’s remaining share of federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding. A Metro Council committee last night took steps toward affirming those priorities by sending a resolution for full Council consideration.
“The growing number of Louisville’s houseless neighbors should make all of us think about what we can do, including things we haven’t tried before. This is a first, temporary step. The solution to homelessness is housing, and we need much more permanent supportive housing and other affordable housing in Louisville. It is a Metro Council priority for American Rescue Plan funds,” said Metro Council Budget Chair Bill Hollander, (D-9).
Mayor Fischer stressed that the Safe Outdoor Space pilot project is just one of many efforts the city has made to end homelessness in our community.
In the Fiscal Year 22 budget alone, the city allocated:
- $10 million to the Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund, bringing the total investment in the Trust Fund and Louisville CARES to more than $66 million;
- $3 million in down payment assistance to help address income and wealth gaps between majority and minority communities by helping more Louisville families become homeowners; and
- More than $20 million in grants to community partners and Metro agencies for housing and support services, specifically related to homelessness and affordable housing.
The Mayor closed his remarks today by thanking the many individuals and organizations, including the Coalition for the Homeless, “who have devoted their time and treasure to helping those in our community who are experiencing homelessness.
“You are living out our community goal of becoming an even more compassionate community, which we define as working to ensure everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential.”