fbpx
Home  /   News  /   Coronavirus and Homelessness in Louisville
March 11, 2020

Coronavirus and Homelessness in Louisville

  • Sign up for our DAILY COVID-19 NEWSLETTER by emailing covid@louhomeless.org with the subject line “Add Me”
  • To stay up to date about the coronavirus crisis in Kentucky, see the state website: www.kycovid19.ky.gov.
  • For list of resources for people working directly with clients experiencing homelessness, click here.
  • For a list of resources for people facing economic hardship due to the COVID-19 outbreak, click here.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has made its way to Louisville. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), COVID-19 is a new, contagious respiratory disease that is rapidly spreading across the world. And according to the World Health Organization, the coronavirus is officially a pandemic.

As always, the Coalition for the Homeless is most concerned about the most vulnerable Louisvillians: those who have no choice but to sleep outdoors, in communal shelters, in their cars, in abandoned buildings, or on relatives’ couches.

It is difficult to follow the best practices of washing your hands and avoiding being in close quarters with others if you don’t have access to running water or live in a home of your own. People experiencing homelessness also have a higher rate of chronic illness than people with stable housing.

Louisville’s day shelters, emergency overnight shelters, and street outreach teams are accustomed to managing public health crises, but COVID-19 introduces new challenges. Together, we are working closely with the Department of Public Health and Wellness and following guidance from the National Alliance to End Homelessness to do what we can to protect such a vulnerable population.

The Coalition is also concerned about the 25% of Louisvillians who experience housing instability every single day. These Louisvillians are rent-burdened, meaning they are often one health crisis or unexpected bill away from not being able to make their rent payments. As the economy continues to crash and unemployment rises, we will see an even greater number of Louisvillians in need of shelter and affordable housing. We are grateful that evictions have been postponed for now, but with so many people out of work, thousands of Louisvillians could face eviction in the coming months.

In 2018, the Coalition’s partners served nearly 8,000 people in shelters or on the streets. Together, we are working hard to protect those vulnerable Louisvillians, and we are grateful for the engagement of our community to do the same.

How you can help:

1.) Donate money or supplies to our member agencies. Our partners are in desperate need of the same personal hygiene items that are in short supply across the city, state, and country—including hand sanitizer, toilet paper, facial tissue, disinfectant spray, and face masks. There are also many grassroots organizations who are working fervently to serve people in need. We urge the community to rally to support our member agencies by making a gift or donating these crucial supplies.

2.) The Coalition urges landlords to offer grace periods for tenants who cannot work due to illness, and for employers to extend paid leave to employees. We also invite Louisvillians to get involved in enacting a legislative agenda that would offer more protections to people living in poverty and experiencing homelessness; learn more at louhomeless.org/advocate.

3.) Check out this list of needs that we have identified for our local community and spread the word, in addition to the many improvements already made (such as a moratorium on evictions and the opening of a new day and overnight shelter for individuals at Salvation Army).

  • The opening of a new family emergency shelter. The Coalition already has 30 families on our waiting list for emergency shelter, with many more who have been sleeping in their cars, outdoors, and on the floors or couches of other family members. We need at least 30 family emergency shelter units immediately, with an additional 30 to come within the next few months.
  • Separate family quarantine space. As families experiencing homelessness display symptoms or test positive for coronavirus, they need a safe place to isolate themselves together. We need a separate family quarantine space for families experiencing homelessness.
  • Port-a-potties and hand sanitizing stations. Now that many restaurants, day shelters, and libraries have shut down or reduced their hours, people experiencing homelessness no longer have a place to use the bathroom or wash their hands. We have identified eight prime locations for port-a-potties and hand sanitizing stations to be placed immediately and serviced regularly for the duration of the crisis.
  • A moratorium on camp closures. The Coalition recommends an immediate moratorium on the closing of homeless camps while Kentucky is in a state of emergency, as well as the continued cleaning of camp sites and placement of hand sanitizing stations and port-a-potties so that the health of residents is not compromised. 
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) for outreach workers and frontline staff. People working face-to-face with outreach workers and frontline staff need access to personal protective equipment in order to be able to do their jobs while staying healthy.
  • The removal of barriers to housing. Because we anticipate more families will experience homelessness in the coming months, we urgently need to remove barriers to housing. Shelters save lives, but housing ends homelessness. Moving people into housing will free up space in emergency shelters and get people off the streets. We need landlords to respond with innovation and compassion during these unprecedented times, including by agreeing to rent to people who have housing vouchers. 
  • Extended moratoriums on evictions, utility shut-offs, and foreclosures. Louisville and Kentucky have already established a moratorium on evictions, utility shut-offs, and foreclosures, but we need to extend these moratoriums for at least a month following the conclusion of the state of emergency, so people have enough time to safely find work.
  • An increase in affordable housing options for the poorest Louisvillians. The Coalition recommends the full funding of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund with the bulk of those resources being dedicated to the poorest Louisvillians with the lowest AMI (annual median income).

Want to make a donation? A list of Coalition member agencies with linked websites can be viewed here.