Heat, construction highlight Jeffersonville's homeless problem - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Heat, construction highlight Jeffersonville's homeless problem

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Ohio River Bridge construction is forcing the homeless in Jeffersonville to find shelter below Interstate 65. Ohio River Bridge construction is forcing the homeless in Jeffersonville to find shelter below Interstate 65.

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- Ohio River bridge construction and the intense heat are making a problem in Jeffersonville that's hard to ignore.  The city's homeless say they're left with few places to go, and it's creating tension with the few businesses left standing off exit 0. 

"I've been out of the street since January," said Army veteran Mike McKell.

McKell spends his days under the viaducts below Interstate 65. With the intense heat, most have moved out of the homeless camp sites, moving their beds and belongings to the underpasses off exit 0. It's estimated about 40 people stay under the viaducts.

Paul Stensrud of Jesus Cares Exit 0 Homeless Outreach Ministry, says the one shelter in town isn't large enough to handle the number of people on the streets. 

"The viaducts are filling up because due to the bridge expansion there's locations that we've been told the homeless needs to be vacated from," said Stensrud.

But there's another problem now that there are fewer places to go off exit 0. Both the McDonalds and Waffle House have been torn down to make way for the new bridge.

That's increasing the amount of traffic into the Hardee's and Thorntons on Court Street.

"I walked over to Thorntons to get a coke and the manager come out and told me to get off the lot, get off the lot. I mean I'm looking no different than what I am right now but if you wouldn't know would you say I was homeless?" McKell asked.

Jeffersonville Police explain an off-duty officer working as private security for the business has only noted two problems in the past week. One person was asked to leave the property for panhandling, another for using the gas station's bathroom to wash himself.

"Basically the homeless right now are even afraid to go to Thorntons in order to get a drink, a hot dog because what's going to happen," said Stensrud.

"The city of Jeff is not targeting or stereotyping anybody," said Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore.

Moore is looking for answers, saying he's put together a homeless task force to come up with a long term solution.

"It's a problem that we're trying to get a handle on -- I don't have the answer for it right now," said Moore.  

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