Statement on Safer KY Act

The Safer KY Act was introduced in the Judiciary Committee on Friday in Frankfort. We saw the bill for the first time at the start of that committee meeting.

When introducing the bill, Representative Jared Bauman said that he hopes it will create “a foundation of unstoppable prosperity.” 

But any strong foundation has to be built on the truth.

The Safer KY Act, unfortunately, is not built on the truths that we know as service providers and people who have experienced homelessness. It fails to address the root causes of violence and poverty, instead relying on disproven approaches, including the criminalization of homelessness and limiting local governments’ abilities to spend federal dollars on evidence-based housing solutions. 

Jail isn’t the solution to homelessness. Banning street camping does not get people into housing. And telling local agencies they cannot spend federal dollars on Housing First programs will increase—not decrease—homelessness across the Commonwealth. That increase will be swift and obvious.

We know that homelessness is a crisis. But we also know that housing is the solution to homelessness. And we have a 97-98% success rate in our Housing First programs here in Louisville—meaning 97-98% of those newly housed Louisvillians stay in housing.

Why would the state legislature pass a bill to disallow local governments from funding those successful programs with federal dollars?

Why would the state legislature ban street camping when Louisville shelters are full nearly every single night with nowhere else for people to go?

The Coalition released A New Path Home earlier this year, a research-based series of recommendations on how to address the homelessness crisis. We welcome conversations with state legislators and others about how to move forward as a state, and hope the bill sponsors will listen to directly impacted people and service providers. But as it is written, we are firmly opposed to the Safer KY Act, which proposes ineffective and cruel laws that will make our homelessness crisis worse. 

Kentuckians: please call the Legislative Message Line today at 1-800-372-7181. Give your name and information, then leave a message for the Jefferson County delegation and say this: “I’m opposed to the Safer KY Act, which criminalizes homelessness and jeopardizes successful housing programs.” 

Stay tuned for more details. Be sure to subscribe to our emails for updates on this and other bills throughout the legislative session, as well as local advocacy alerts and news.