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New Program Aims to House More of Louisville's Homeless

A new partnership between the Louisville Metro Housing Authority and the Coalition for the Homeless aims to help more homeless residents find permanent housing.

The "Move Up" program hopes to free up housing vouchers to  allow more chronically homeless residents to be served, despite dwindling funds, said Natalie Harris, executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless.

The effort will transfer residents, who are currently supported by homeless services vouchers, to Section 8 vouchers provided by the housing authority, according to Harris.

"It allows everybody to make the best use of limited resources in the community," she said.

Harris said some people that came off the street years ago have changed their way of living. They "don't need the level of services" they're currently receiving, she added.

Homeless service providers in Louisville get about $9 million in federal funds each year, she said. More than half of that money is used to move residents from the street to shelters or into permanent housing, she added.

"We need that same amount of money each year just to house the people already housed," Harris said.

To put more people in permanent housing situations, officials had to get creative, she said.

Harris said it costs about $7,000 each year to provide an individual with a housing voucher.

According to a report released in January, there were just 12 housing vouchers available to the homeless in Louisville for permanent housing, said Mary Frances Schafer, director of community coordination for Coalition for the Homeless.

Harris said there are about 200 people that could potentially move onto a Section 8 voucher and free up a voucher for a homeless resident.

These people will continue to receive the benefits of that voucher "year after year," considering they meet income requirements, Harris said.

And if an individual selected for the program, for some reason, has "some kind of relapse" while living on a Section 8 voucher and needs the services available through Louisville's homeless providers, they will receive those services, Harris said.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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