At least one death, two city notices to clear homeless camps since Sunday

Wayside Christian Mission homeless shelter at 432 E. Jefferson Street | Image via Google Maps

The Jefferson County Coroner’s office and Louisville Metro Police Department have confirmed that one homeless man died in downtown Louisville on Sunday, while members of outreach teams say that another man died on Monday who was also sleeping out in the cold conditions.

LMPD spokesman Dwight Mitchell told Insider Louisville that the department worked one death investigation on Sunday for a homeless person at 620 E. Muhammad Ali Blvd., which is just two blocks from the large shelter of Wayside Christian Mission on Jefferson Street.

Deputy Coroner Kim Smith also confirmed this one death, but the office was waiting to release information about the deceased until their next of kin was notified.

In a public Facebook post on Monday, Christen Bradshaw Herron — founder and director of the outreach team The Forgotten Louisville — stated that homeless individuals had died from hypothermia on both Sunday and Monday, both within a half mile of Wayside Christian Mission.

Natalie Harris, the executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless, also told Insider Louisville that she heard from outreach teams the names of two men who had died since Sunday, but could not confirm the full name of the second man. Both names are being withheld by Insider until the coroner’s office has notified next of kin.

Neither the coroner’s office nor LMPD had any knowledge about the death of a second  individual.

Likewise, Maria Price, the director of the St. John’s Center for Homeless Men, only knew about the death of the man on Sunday, which took place one block away from their daytime shelter. Price said that the man who died on Sunday was last served by St. John’s in 2016.

With temperatures beginning to drop steadily in Louisville over the last few days, Price says that their daytime shelter — like many others throughout the city — is at or over capacity every day, filling up by 8 a.m. every morning.

While the second death has not been confirmed, mayoral spokeswoman Jean Porter told Insider that the Metro Department of Public Works issued two 21-day notices on Monday to clear homeless encampments at underpasses near downtown.

Porter said that the Kentucky Transportation Department requested that the city clear out the homeless camp at College Street under I-65 just south of Broadway, adding that residents had also complained about crime and “activity that’s not good for the neighborhood” there.

The city also issued a notice to vacate the encampment nearby at Oak and Floyd in Old Louisville, to prevent those displaced homeless individuals from moving there, according to Porter.

Public Works issued two 21-day notices to vacate homeless camps on Monday | Photo via tweet by Councilman Bill Hollander, D-9

Because of an ordinance passed by Metro Council in February, the city now has to give a 21-day notice before it can clear out a homeless encampment, in addition to notifying groups that serve and work with homeless clients.

WHAS reported last week that 21 homeless individuals were ticketed by LMPD officers for sleeping on the sidewalk under the I-65 underpass on Jefferson Street, which is directly next to the Wayside Christian Mission shelter. Porter tells Insider that while LMPD has stopped ticketing such individuals for illegal camping, they can still be cited for other criminal actions.

Mayor Greg Fischer’s Homeless Encampment Task Force — which he commissioned last December after backlash from his administration clearing several homeless camps downtown — is scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, on the 4th floor of 745 West Main Street. Porter said that Fischer will not attend the meeting, as he is out of town.

In a tweet on Monday, Councilman Bill Hollander, D-9, who sponsored the 21-day notice ordinance, referred to the two new clearance notices posted that day, stating this “is not a long-term plan. There is nowhere for these people to go. We need more shelter beds and much better solutions — and we need them now.”