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Louisville Officials Resume Clearing Homeless Encampments

The city will demolish a homeless encampment near the interstate, citing safety risks.
The city will demolish a homeless encampment near the interstate, citing safety risks.

Residents of a homeless encampment in south Louisville have until Monday morning to gather their belongings and relocate.

Officials deemed the camp a health and safety risk when they started assessing tent communities across the city last week. It’s part of what they call a multiphase plan to transition people to more stable housing. 

“This is considered a dangerous area because it’s close to the actual expressway,” said Tameka Laird, director of the Office of Resilience and Community Services. “We are concerned about people getting hurt.”

Laird said the city has received more than 10 complaints about the encampment. 

Under local ordinances, unsheltered residents are typically given 21 days to vacate encampments. But because this particular community is on state-owned land, they will only have three days to relocate. 

Laird said camp residents can work with social-service providers to access resources like health, behavioral and housing services. She added staff conducting needs assessments at encampments facing eviction are also giving residents informational pamphlets from the Coalition for the Homeless.

Maria Price with the St. John Center for Homeless Men said the current crisis is a result of longstanding systemic inequities. 

“The really criminal behavior in this situation is that 50 years of flawed housing policy have made it impossible for too many people to have access to safe, decent, affordable and supportive housing,” Price said. 

Louisville remains generally segregated to this day — a lasting imprint of redlining, a racist practice intended to and responsible for displacing Black residents. A 2019, city-commissioned housing needs assessment found that the rental markets with the most affordable housing stock in the county are home to mostly Black residents. 

In Jefferson County, there’s an overwhelming need for housing affordable enough for very low-income residents, according to the housing assessment. Specifically, the city needs more than 30,000 new units estimated at about $3.5 billion.


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