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Metro Council President Wants To Crack Down On Illegal Temporary Housing

David James
Metro Councilman David James

Low property values in certain parts of Louisville have drawn predatory operators of temporary housing facilities, said Metro Council President David James on Monday morning. He is calling for more detailed regulations and better enforcement.

James filed a resolution Monday asking his fellow council members to direct Louisville Metro Planning and Design Services to study the issue and recommend changes to current law.

"If they're operating illegally and not taking care of the people that they're supposed to be taking care of, I do want them to be out of business, because they're not serving the community nor are they serving the people that need the help," he said.

The goal is to streamline the process of addressing temporary housing — in particular transitional housing and sober living facilities — that, James said, pop up overnight and operate without the proper permits.

James represents District 6, which includes the west Louisville neighborhoods of Russell and Park Hill, and said his office receives calls weekly about this issue. Currently, James said when he receives complaints he calls Planning and Zoning, which can send an enforcement officer who can cite offenders.

James said he could not quantify the scope of the problem, but that he hopes Planning and Design would study and address it.

Kimberly Moore, a recovering addict who serves on the city's Recovery Housing Task Force, said most of the illegal temporary housing facilities are in Russell.

"I want to see people recover with dignity, compassion and respect, and just be able to focus on the recovery," she said.

But some are concerned that increased regulation of temporary housing could have an impact on other facilities in that category, including homeless shelters.

Natalie Harris, executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless, said how good or bad potential changes are will depend on who is involved in producing them. She said she would like to be a part of the process.

"The devil is in the details. They could review it and say, 'Look, there are plenty of rules in place. We're not enforcing the rules that already exist, and we need more compliance officers,'" she said. "Or it could be, 'We want to make it as difficult as possible for these to exist and so we're going to add all these onerous requirements.'"

Council President James said the resolution would be heard by the Planning and Zoning Committee next week.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.