Thursday January 27, 2005
Following announced cuts in federal funding to area homeless services, Mayor Jerry Abramson today said citizen knowledge and support of existing programs will be crucial in minimizing the effect of homelessness on the community.
“We’re working with our local HUD representatives to understand these cuts and what it means moving forward,” Abramson said. “However, in the here and now, we must encourage awareness and, in some cases, action when it comes to this community’s homeless population.”
He said that while there are several agencies that provide a variety of shelter, counseling, food and clothing programs for the homeless, many citizens are not aware of the extent of Louisville's homeless population or what programs are in place to provide support.
According to the Coalition for the Homeless, Louisville Metro’s homeless population consists of more than 11,000 people, with a last address in 37 of the area’s 40 ZIP codes.
“It is truly a community-wide issue,” Abramson said.
Louisville Metro provides more than $700,000 in funding to 12 agencies addressing a range of issues related to homelessness. But the agencies that receive Continuum of Care funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development learned this week that their funding would be cut more than 55 percent, from $5.5 million last year to $2.4 million this year.
“In light of funding cuts and surely more cold temperatures to come this winter, it’s more important than ever for our residents to do their part and look out for a situations where someone may be in a crisis, and to know what to do in those cases,” Abramson said.
· Transportation to shelters:
When temperatures drop below freezing, several area service-providers operate a coordinated emergency-shelter program called Operation White Flag. Under White Flag, the shelters have agreed to admit all wanting to come in, regardless of the normal shelter capacity. In addition, volunteer-driven teams coordinated by Wayside Christian Mission’s Samaritan Patrol provide outreach to homeless individuals by offering transportation to shelters and offering blankets for those who choose to sleep outside. To notify the patrol of an individual that may need assistance, citizens may call Wayside at 584-3711.
· Homeless individuals in crisis:
As part of the community-oriented policing approach, Louisville Metro Police will also assist homeless individuals in crisis situations. Calling police may be the most appropriate course of action when someone:
¡ Is physically impaired and cannot independently move to another location; ¡ Is confused about where they are;
¡ Cannot answer a simple question or understand directions;
¡ Appears intoxicated and cannot function;
¡ Appears to be at risk to themselves or a risk to others.
Residents are asked to use the police dispatch line, 574-2111.
· Contributions and volunteering:
The Coalition for the Homeless provides a centralized resource for concerned citizens to make financial contributions or volunteer their time.
Specific needs include:
¡ Cold-weather clothing, large sizes most-often needed;
¡ Contributions for gasoline reimbursements for volunteer pick-up programs;
¡ Volunteer time spent at area shelters.
For a complete listing of area programs and volunteer needs, contact the Coalition for the Homeless at 589-0190.