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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville is down one white flag shelter, which may put even more hardship on the homeless in our community at the worst possible time.
As one homeless man, Mark Roth, explains, "If I could help it won't be no more, because it's just too cold out there. I have blankets sleeping on cardboard. I'm just not going to do it again it's just too cold."
Roth was at St. John's day shelter still needing a place to stay on a bitter cold night. When temperatures dip to brutal lows, area shelters put out a white flag telling people like Mark they can come there no matter the capacity. The aim is to make sure no one dies on the streets of Louisville.
But the flag no longer flies outside the Healing Place men's facility at Market and South 11th. The non-profit severed ties with the Coalition for the Homeless, the overseeing agency for 32 groups serving people on the streets of Louisville.
Jay Davidson, Chairman of The Healing Place, said, "We found that our missions had been separated....We've been focused on the homeless alcoholic and addict and the coalition is focused on the family systems."
No association means there's no flag.
Davidson adds, "Because they're receiving services for drugs and alcohol they're not considered homeless and that's been the separation with the coalition."
Natalie Harris, Exec. Dir. of the Coalition for the Homeless, said, "They no longer hold a certain number of beds for the homeless, so we can't count on the 80 beds tonight at Healing Place. It all depends on who came in the door first and that may be a homeless person and it may not."
The Healing Place is primarily a residential drug and alcohol treatment program. But a portion of the 500 beds at the men's and women's facilities are reserved just for the homeless off the street.
Leaders say they won't turn anyone away on white flag days, but it will now be word of mouth. Davidson says, "We don't put the white flag out but word on the street is you can always come to the Healing Place and get a bed."
Without the designation, coalition leaders say the city's other white flag shelters -- St. Vincent De Paul, Salvation Army, and Wayside Christian Mission are seeing an influx.
Nina Moseley of Wayside Christian Mission says, "We can fill this dining room floor with mats, have a TV room we can fill with mats. We usually can get about 120 extra folks and if there are folks beyond that, that we can usually allow them to sit on three church pews in the hallways beyond that."
No matter the fallout, For Roth there is one mission -- finding the next shelter, one night at a time. "It's better than outdoors, I know that," he says. "I don't want to freeze to death."