Mayor Greg Fischer at his news conference Wednesday in Metro Hall | Photo by Joe Sonka

Mayor Greg Fischer on Wednesday revealed his administration’s plan to spend over $500,000 in surplus funds on partner organizations providing temporary storage and shelter services to the homeless through the end of this fiscal year.

In its last meeting of the year in December, Metro Council appropriated $564,791 of the midyear city surplus for emergency homeless services this winter, requiring the Fischer administration to present a detailed plan for how it would spend the funds by Jan. 2.

As was requested in the council’s appropriation, the plan announced Wednesday will include temporary storage space for personal belongings that the homeless aren’t allowed to bring into shelters, in addition to new low-barrier shelter space that accepts homeless individuals who are often barred entry due to having a partner or pet, being intoxicated or banned because of past behavior.

The administration plans to partner with nonprofit organizations to deliver these services, with $501,291 going to the St. John Center for Homeless Men, The Healing Place, Wayside Christian Mission, Volunteers of America, St. Stephen Baptist Church and Uniting Partners for Women and Children.

The temporary storage space for the homeless will be provided by storage containers in a parking lot on East Liberty that is currently owned by the Louisville Housing Authority and next door to the Wayside Christian Mission shelter. Management of the storage facilities will be provided by St. John’s staff, with that organization receiving $45,791 from the city.

Wayside Christian Mission will receive $100,000 for providing a low-barrier shelter for 100 homeless individuals in the gym of its East Jefferson Street shelter, welcoming those who are couples, have pets or have been previously barred for bad behavior. Those who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol are welcome as long as they are nonviolent, but not sex offenders or unaccompanied minors.

Wayside actually began offering this new low-barrier service in its gym on Christmas Eve, with its CEO Nina Moseley noting at the news conference that while such services are very new to the organization, it has worked well over the past week.

The Healing Place will also receive $90,000 from the city to provide a low-barrier shelter space for 24 homeless men over the next three months at its facility on 1019 West Market Street.

The Volunteers of America will receive $73,000 to house 10 homeless families at the Hotel Louisville and provide them with rapid re-housing services and case management, while St. Stephen will receive $97,500 to shelter six families and provide meals, with these individuals receiving re-housing and case management services from the Coalition for the Homeless.

St. John and Uniting Partners for Women and Children will also receive $95,000 to implement a team of outreach workers to connect homeless individuals and families to these services.

The city’s chief resilience officer Eric Friedlander noted that what the funds will not go toward are the transportation costs of individuals to and from shelters, storage or services, nor a new city-sponsored outdoor encampment for the homeless, as some homeless advocates have called for.

Councilman Bill Hollander, D-9, who sponsored the ordinance appropriating these funds, said he appreciated “the rapid, hard work” of the Office of Resilience and Community Services and other community partners in coming up with the plan in a matter of weeks.

“Homelessness has many causes and no one solution,” said Hollander. “The work we are starting now recognizes those facts and will help get some people experiencing homelessness off of our streets. It addresses families, it addresses men, it addresses women, it provides shelter, food, storage and services to get people into better solutions.”

Hollander noted that this will “serve as a bridge to a more permanent plan” that the council will receive in April when Mayor Fischer will present his city budget for the next fiscal year.

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Joe Sonka
Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]