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Number Of Homeless People In Louisville Continues To Fall

More than 6,700 people were homeless in Louisville last year.

That's about 12 percent fewer than the year before and nearly 23 percent fewer than in 2012, according to the annual homeless census, which is conducted by the Coalition for the Homeless. The census accounts for individual homeless people who are served in Jefferson County throughout the year. The count is "unduplicated," meaning each person is accounted for only once.

Unaccompanied children account for the largest rate of homeless population decline. The 418 children accounted for in the annual census marks a 16 percent drop compared with the year prior, according the census.

The number of homeless children, in general, dropped by about 4 percent from 2014 levels, to about 1,200.

Nearly 20 percent more domestic violence victims received homeless support services in Louisville in 2015 compared with 2014, the census shows.

Natalie Harris, executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless, said the reason for the spike is unclear, but it could be correlated with the closure and renovation of the Center for Women and Families in downtown Louisville last year.

News of continued success in reducing the city's homeless population comes just a week after the Coalition for the Homeless announced it would soon be forced to reduce some services due to federal funding cuts.

This coming year, they’ll have about $1.2 million less to support transitional housing services and case management programs, said Catherine McGeeney, director of development for the Coalition for the Homeless.

“These cuts are devastating, and we will certainly see an impact,” she said.

Specifically, the cuts will affect transitional housing services for families, people with HIV/AIDS, young adults and domestic violence victims, McGeeney said. Case management services for people in shelters and on the street will also be reduced, she said.

Services focused on getting people in to transitional housing is a key element in the plight to get people in to permanent housing. City officials last year worked to get veterans into housing and, in turn, were able to reduce the city's homeless veteran population by nearly 400 people.

Harris said getting people into housing "is the only way to truly end homelessness." She made yet another call for city legislators to boost funding for Louisville's stock of affordable housing.

Last week, housing advocates delivered more than 1,000 letters to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer that each show support for allocating $5 million to the city's affordable housing trust fund in the next budget cycle.

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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