The Louisville Continuum of Care Census is an overview of our emergency shelter, transitional housing, homeless outreach and supportive services (day shelter, prevention and diversion) projects. The total number served is made up of clients who are homeless and/or who are simply struggling with significant poverty, illness or several other barriers. This total number is fantastic at indicating the number of Louisville citizens who need services. Also, clearly defined on this report is the number of clients who specifically utilized our shelters during the reporting year. It is extremely important that you keep in mind that some clients who choose to go to day shelters may never opt for shelter. Some clients in street outreach projects may, from time to time but on no consistent basis, utilize shelter for a very brief period of time. And our White Flag projects (activated during times of extreme hot/cold weather) often shelter folks who may never otherwise come into our traditional shelters.
Sheltering Louisville citizens and extrapolating numbers from usage is very difficult. The census is a tool that tries to help in this capacity. It is important at all times when reviewing all homeless data to do so thoughtfully and slowly. Making quick and flippant assumptions about Louisville’s homeless data will most likely lead to conversations and discussions that are not based on reality.
Lastly, the Louisville Census will not line up with our official federal data submissions (the Longitudinal Statistical Analysis (LSA) report and our System Performance Measures). This is because those reports do not review our Supportive Services Only projects which would include projects such as Diversion, Prevention and our Day Shelters. But those projects are included in the Census because they provide a specific lens on Louisville citizens who significantly need support from our community.