The Living Room

The Living Room assisted 401 guests in February 2018 alone. (WDRB Photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Shavon Thompson is a beacon of hope to anyone who rings the door bell outside her office on Magazine Street.

"Being here has really opened the door for me to become part of, instead of apart from," she said.

Thompson overcame a drug and alcohol addiction that dominated her life.

"That's what it became for me," she said. "It became my everything. I used to live, and I lived to use."

Now, Thompson is one of several peers who help others battle their own addictions and mental illnesses at Centerstone's Living Room program in downtown Louisville.

"There is literally no other place you can go in Louisville where you can just be," she said. "Where it is OK to be intoxicated, where it is OK to be under the influence, where it is OK to be mentally unstable."

It's only been open for about two months, but both Thompson and Living Room co-founder Kimberly Brothers believe the start-up has already saved lives.

"We really think this is the future of diversion from the justice system with persons with addiction and mental illness," Brothers said.

But there is a problem: The program gets money from the city.

"We really hoped to remain fully funded at $1 million," Brother said. "That's how much it takes to run the place."

There's a growing chance that won't happen as Metro Council looks to solve the city's pension crisis with a plan that would combine a tax hike with millions in cuts, and the Living Room has already been pin-pointed by Metro Council as something that could be cut.

"We're really shocked and confused about how we would even be considered for those cuts," Brothers said in response.

Brothers said she's started having uncomfortable conversations about the future as the plan to cut becomes closer to reality. Both she and Thompson hope they're still around and helping others this time next year.

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