Louisville homelessness returns to record levels - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville homelessness returns to record levels

After somewhat of an improvement during the past couple of years, homelessness in Louisville is returning to record levels.  That's according to a report from the Coalition for the Homeless.

Given the current state of the economy, the report should not be surprising.  Still, it is disturbing that the number of homeless children continues to climb just as programs to help them are struggling to find enough money.

Because of a domestic situation, Aimee Carter has lived with her teenage daughter at the Volunteers of America shelter for almost a year.  Earlier, she says, they were staying in hotels, and living day-to-day.

And she says, "When we first came, we were staying at a small unit with other families.  It's something hard to get used to, especially for kids, but like I say I'm grateful for all the help they have given us."

Aimee is one of more than 11,000 people to have stayed in one of the 27 homeless shelters in the Louisville area during 2007.  That's a 3% increase from the previous year.

But what is even more alarming is the number of homeless children -- a 58% increase.

Marlene Gordon of the Housing Coalition attributes that to, "under-education, lack of a social network, lack of a living wage, not being able to afford a house, and bascially moving from couch to couch.

The report comes just as human service programs to help the homeless are facing cuts.

Because of the city's own tight budget, the Volunteers of America shelter may not be getting $42,000 to help pay for overnight staffing.

Janie Burks of Volunteers of America explains, "We have to call on this community, each of us, as individuals, our Metro Council, our mayor, our governor, our state to continue to provide funding for this shelter and all of the programs like it in our community that who are serving those who need help the most."

And Gordon says, "There's no quick fix, it's a complex issue, we need multiple housing types so that we can pull what's appropriate for that family, for that individual."

But there is hope for Aimee Carter.  She plans to get her nursing degree soon and move into her own apartment:  "I never thought it would happen to me, but it can happen to anybody anytime."

And it's believed there are many more homeless who are not counted in the report -- people who live on the street or sleep in their cars and have not visited a shelter.

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