FRANKFORT, Ky. — “The Kentucky Survey on Criminalization of Homelessness” was conducted by several organizations to gather people’s thoughts on House Bill 5, or the Safer Kentucky Act. A section of the bill addresses camping in areas that are designated for pedestrians and vehicles.

What You Need To Know

  • A luncheon on House Bill 5, called the Safer Kentucky Act, was hosted in Frankfort by the Street Voice Council and legislators were invited to attend

  • Organizers wanted elected officials to meet those who would be impacted by House Bill 5 if it passes

  • Over 60 lawmakers attended the event, including those who support HB 5

  • A press conference was held after the luncheon to release the results of a survey conducted by several organizations

About 65 lawmakers attended a luncheon on Wednesday, Feb. 7 that was hosted by the Street Voice Council, who works with those who are homeless and would be directly affected by the proposed law. Several elected officials who support HB 5 went to the event as well.

Members of the Street Voice Council sat down with legislators to get to know each other. The goal was for lawmakers to see the faces of those who would be impacted by the bill.

“The luncheon went great,” said Aren Gayhart with the Street Voice Council. “Everybody participated. There was a lot of emotions flying around, you know, between anger and sadness. Overall, I believe that we’re getting somewhere.”

State Representative Emily Callaway, R-Louisville, talked about HB 5 during a press conference sponsored by the Street Voice Council at the state capitol on Feb. 7, 2024. (Spectrum News 1/Geraldine Torrellas)

After the luncheon, the results of the survey were shared. The survey was sponsored by the Street Voice Council, the Catholic Action Center, Central Kentucky Housing and Homeless Initiative, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.

“Overwhelmingly people do not feel that House Bill 5 on the issues dealing with the homeless makes Kentucky safer,” said Ginny Ramsey, the director and co-founder of the Catholic Action Center.

State Representative Emily Callaway, R-Louisville, is one of the bill’s co-sponsors. She attended the luncheon and spoke about the intent behind the bill during the press conference.

“The heart behind that is not to criminalize being homeless,” said Callaway. “We want to show compassion for the homeless by saying we recognize you, we see you, we want to help you in a very tangible, long-lasting way to help you be self-sufficient and get the services you need.”

HB 5 was assigned to a senate committee on Wednesday.

According to the survey, 89% of the participants responded that requiring public safety officers to cite and arrest the unsheltered for camping will not make Kentucky safer.