Mayor, Hope Buss update progress on opening of The Hope Village on College Street
Mayor Greg Fischer and representatives of The Hope Buss and Louisville Metro’s Office of Resilience and Community Services (RCS) provided an update today on progress on The Hope Village, a pilot program to provide a safe outdoor space for residents experiencing homelessness.
RSC announced in January that The Hope Buss had been selected to oversee the $1.5 million project to operate and outfit what it’s calling The Hope Village. Work on the project’s College Street site – including $500,000 worth of plumbing and electrical work – got under way soon after the announcement.
While the work to prepare and outfit the site was more extensive than initially thought, and complicated by supply issues and weather conditions, project leaders have kept the project moving forward. And Mayor Fischer said it should open by March 31, barring any issues outside our control, like weather and supply chain challenges.
“The purpose of today’s gathering is to provide an update on the work that’s been done and the work underway on this promising new resource for individuals experiencing houselessness,” said Mayor Fischer, adding, “Like other cities across our nation, Louisville is facing a critical challenge in addressing the needs of people with no stable housing, and we are committed to finding an array of options for them. This is one of them.”
When finished, The Hope Village will be equipped with 48 tents, a shower trailer, portable toilets, handwashing stations, and electricity access. Additional amenities will include a food distribution area and a trailer to serve as staff office space available for resident intake. Other amenities may be added after residents move in and their needs are assessed.
“As we’ve noted before, creating an outdoor space is not a replacement for housing and shelter,” said Dr. Susan Buchino, Director of the Homeless Services Division at RCS, whose team will work with the city’s Accelerator Team on program oversight and funding compliance. “As a harm reduction approach, it mitigates the risks associated with unsheltered houselessness by meeting people where they are, treating them with respect and dignity, and using the opportunity to extend assistance, foster trust, and provide accompaniment while navigating a complex system of services and resources. The Homeless Services Division is grateful for the partnership of The Hope Buss and is excited to see this space transition from a parking lot into a safe place that offers the compassion, stability, and relationships that aid someone to move home.”
Founded by Rev. Stachelle Bussey, the mission of The Hope Buss is to combat hopelessness in Louisville’s underserved neighborhoods and populations, bridging the gap between the streets and stable housing by creating transformational housing communities and empowering marginalized voices.
“The Hope Village is not a permanent solution, but it is a bridge toward more sustainable solutions around our housing crisis,” Bussey said. “Our promise remains – to engage and empower the community and encourage our Village residents by offering equitable options. As a Black-led organization, we are ecstatic for this opportunity; this is just the beginning of a different Louisville. At The Hope Village, our motto is simple: Everyone Deserves Community.”
As part of today’s update, Bussey outlined some of the supportive services that will be offered on site and the partners who will be providing those services, which include:
- Feed Louisville: Food distribution.
- Dare to Care Food Bank: Food resources.
- Coalition for the Homeless: Staff training resources and Homeless Management Information System (HMIS).
- Wellspring: Mental health crisis stabilization and housing support.
- Metro United Way: United Us/ United Community partner.
- John Center: Staff training resources
- NuLease Medical Solutions: Weekly COVID testing, 24/7 healthcare provider onsite to provide screenings, and initial resident intake.
- New Leaf: Addiction and mental health services.
- Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness: Safe needle exchange/disposal and Narcan access.
- My Dog Eats First: Pet food and supplies.
- The Advetcate/Dr. Isaac Croudep: Vet exams and pet vaccinations.
- Bridgehaven: Offsite mental health supportive services and activities.
- Louisville Recovery Community Connection (LRCC): Addiction and recovery support, offered both onsite and offsite.
Other offerings include sex education, encampment outreach, job training, conflict resolution training, mentorship, service referrals to outside partners, care planning, and interfaith spiritual guidance.
The Hope Village will accept residents on a referral-only basis from partner organizations. Resident applications will be assessed based on how well the individual can thrive in a community environment. Security personnel will be onsite, in addition to security cameras and improved lighting in common areas. Residents will be assigned a Hope Village ID to enter the property and identify themselves to Hope Village personnel.
Mayor Fischer stressed that The Hope Village pilot project is just one of many efforts the city is making to end homelessness and create more affordable housing in the community – goals that were targeted among top priorities in spending the city’s allotment of the federal American Rescue (ARP) Plan funding. In November 2021, Metro Council approved $89 million in ARP funding to support the city’s plan to address chronic street homelessness and boost affordable housing through immediate, intermediate, and long-term solutions.
In addition to the $1.5 million allocated for operations of The Hope Village, other approved funding includes:
- College Street Property:$7.5 million to convert the building at College Street into bridge housing units and furnish the units.
- Permanent Supportive Housing:$32 million for client-centered housing with wrap-around services.
- Affordable Housing:$40 million will be invested in affordable housing units through the Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
- Down Payment Assistance:$4 million for Louisville Metro Government to increase down payment assistance to help approximately 160 new homeowners.
- Home Repair:$4 million to boost an existing successful program that helps people stay in their homes; it would aid approximately 160 homeowners.