LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Homeless residents in Louisville face new fines of $50 or more for camping and storing items on sidewalks and public spaces.
An ordinance passed by Louisville Metro Council on Thursday, Dec. 15 may also allow for the immediate removal of belongings obstructing a public walkway, belongings that can be reclaimed at the metro waste facility.
The new ordinance says personal items removed may be disposed of if not collected within 30 days.
“Our community faces real issues around homelessness and housing insecurity,” George Eklund told Spectrum News 1 on Friday.
Eklund is the Education & Advocacy Director for the Coalition for the Homeless and says he’s not minimizing complaints Metro council members hear about homeless individuals but believes citing the residents won’t amount to significant change.
“Our position is that this is not a real solution to these very real problems. We need to kind of shift away from this reactive approach that is putting us on the road toward criminalizing and fining people who have nowhere else to go…” Eklund explained.
The city can also issue Fines for parking a car overnight at a Metro park. Creating an ‘open fire,’ will also bring a fine according to language in the new ordinance.
“For example, if there are needles in parks, let’s figure out how to get better access to… containers. If people are sleeping in their cars in parks, let’s explore what safe parking lot programs look like,” Eklund continued.
There are some limitations written into the new ordinance, including requiring a 21-day-notice of removal for camps having already existed longer than three days.
“Let’s move toward proactive approaches that actually will fix the issues that people are having rather than penalizing and creating that power dynamic between Metro and people that have no other options right now,” Eklund said.
Spectrum News 1 also spoke to Nina Moseley, the Chief Operating Officer of Wayside Christian Mission, one of the city’s largest homeless resource organizations.
“I don’t think a fine is going to do it. We need to put that energy someplace else that is really going to make a difference. And as I said, it’s a hard question and the only possible solution is more affordable housing,” Moseley said.
Specific details about the ordinance can be found if you scroll to “Item 49.”