LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Coalition for the Homeless said there is a homelessness crisis in Louisville, and Tuesday it outlined four recommendations that it believes its research shows can help end it.

Dozens of people came out Tuesday morning the the West Broadway YMCA to listen to what the Coalition called "A New Path Home." The event detailed four main recommendations that it believes are the start to ending homelessness in Louisville.

That includes:

  • Right to Shelter
    • On any night, there are at least 375 more unhoused Louisvillians than shelter beds. The Coalition recommends a right to shelter ordinance to fund the creation for 375 new non-congregate, well-staffed, 24/7 shelter options so no one has to sleep on the street.
  • Affordable & Permanent Supportive Housing
    • A 2019 report showed that Louisville was short 31,000 units of affordable housing for our poorest households, with some Louisvillians needing more intensive support. The Coalition recommends a new revenue stream to fund 3,750 units of housing every year for eight years so that every poor Louisvillian can afford a home, as well as permanent supporting housing for those who need services.
  • Medical Respite
    • Unhoused patients are often discharged to the streets, making it impossible for them to recover. The Coalition recommends funding 45 medical respite beds (30 new, 15 existing) through Norton/UofL and Family Health Centers so these patients have time, support, and the space needed to recover.
  • Eviction Prevention
    • Louisville's pre-COVID eviction rate was twice the national average but with relief funding, Louisville cut that number in half. The Coalition recommends new funds to maintain that progress, keeping thousands of Louisvillians in their homes and out of homelessness.

On a macro level, the Coalition said the solution is housing. Average rent in Louisville, according to the Coalition, is nearly $1,200 per month. The city is short 31,000 affordable housing units, leaders said, and there's not enough shelter space, especially for families.

"The shelter system is overwhelmed," said George Eklund, director of Education and Advocacy for the Coalition for the Homeless. "It's full every night and it's underfunded."

Earlier this year, the city announced plans to spend more than $30 million to address homelessness and create a community care campus in Smoketown. Mayor Craig Greenberg has also said he is working to add 15,000 affordable housing units to the city in the next four years.

"Housing is the answer to homelessness," said Natalie Harris, executive director of the Coalition. "But as rents increase and wages stay flat, poor people are forced to spend more of their income on rent."

Currently, at many of homeless camps in the city, tents, belongings and shopping carts are scattered along numerous grassy areas, sometimes next to busy roads. Based on data from 2021, the Coalition said more than 10,000 people experienced homelessness in Louisville. 

"We know for sure that there are more people who are resorting to camping out who feel they have no option but to camp out," said Catherine McGeeney, director of communications for Coalition for the Homeless.

But some of the changes outlined Tuesday would come with a price tag of millions of dollars on top of funding the services already in place. McGeeney said options include looking into different manners of revenue streams, from federal funds to partnerships and even increasing existing fees or taxes.

"We think there is a ton of new revenue streams that need to be established in our city order to fund these things," she said. "Federal dollars are available for matches, so we have a new document we'll be releasing — probably next month — of recommended funding streams. But we think that there are some existing fees or taxes that we can add to certain Airbnb properties or a non-owner occupied home, an increase in the deed tax or various other taxes that could help us get to the revenue stream we need."

McGeeney said the goal of the ordinance would be to create enough units (375 more units) every night so every person on the street can have the option to stay indoors at a shelter. 

"This is our vision for Louisville where everyone has a home," she said.

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