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A Homeless Man Died Last Night In Louisville's Frigid Weather

Kenneth Winfield had been a frequent visitor of the St. John Center for Homeless Men during the past four years.

Late Thursday night, he laid down outside of the center and died, said Maria Price, executive director of the St. John Center.

An unknown resident called emergency services for help and Winfield was taken to University Hospital, but efforts to revive him failed, Price said.

Winfield, 49, was homeless and often chose the privacy of an encampment instead of the packed conditions of a shelter, Price said. That was true even on frigid nights like the ones Louisville has experienced the past week.

The deputy coroner handling Winfield's case could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon. 

Update: The exact cause of his death is not yet known, said Jo-Ann Farmer, a deputy coroner handling his case. An autopsy is set for Saturday morning, she added.

Price described Winfield as "a good man, a joyful and generous and kind man."

"He smiled a lot," she added.

He picked up trash outside of the center and valued the services the center provided him.

But, he ultimately "fell through the cracks" and wasn't considered for a housing voucher, she said.

"His situation tells a much larger story of the folks that are kind of stuck," she said.

Winfield, like many other men and women, had gone through the common assessment process of determining who is most in need of housing, Price said.

"We try to evaluate who is the most vulnerable, who is the most likely to die on the streets," she said.

"(Kenneth) was considered to be in the vulnerable category," she said.

But "an opening didn't come soon enough for him." she said. Winfield was among hundreds of people in Louisville who score high on the vulnerability scale but remain homeless because of a lack of space in a housing program, Price added.

The mood at the St. Johns Center has been somber all week, Price said. The men there know the danger they live with--the danger that is right outside the door.

"And then this," she said. "It's a heartbreak."

Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.