Forum Gives Louisville’s Homeless Chance to Voice Concerns

by Devin Katayama on March 8, 2012

The Occupy Louisville movement has spurred the creation of a panel to hear concerns regarding homelessness in the city. A diverse group of organizations, including city officials, will listen to discussion this Friday on the issue.

Those on the panel aren’t quite sure what issues might be brought up, but talks earlier this year with Occupy Louisville demonstrators were enough to request a forum, said Curtis Stauffer with the Metropolitan Housing Coalition, one of the groups on the panel.

“It could be a day to day simple operations thing that could make life easier for consumers and it could be bigger issues related to broader policy questions about how consumers are perceiving their use of the system and ideas to bring it forward,” he said.

Stauffer said certain individuals brought up concerns about the provisions of homeless services in Louisville. That led to subsequent meetings with city officials and ultimately the forum Friday, which was proposed by Regina Warren with the city’s department of community services and revitalization.

“One thing that came up during the meeting in January was that some of the signs that talked about procedures at the shelters weren’t printed in big enough font given the fact that a lot of folks don’t have access to appropriate eye-wear,” said Stauffer.

Occupy Louisville members, some of whom are homeless, say the state of shelters in the city is unacceptable.

Some issues regarding the safety of shelters have been addressed, like having a stronger police presence during meal times said Natalie Harris, executive director of Louisville’s Coalition for the Homeless. But she says the forum will give homeless individuals the platform to express all the concerns they may have.

“It’s more of a way for people to be able to express their general feelings and concerns that don’t necessarily have so much to do with rules and the inspection process that the city does but just living with other people in a group setting,” said Harris.

Homelessness has been one of Occupy Louisville’s key issues since demonstrators moved to its current location at Founder’s Square. The city and demonstrators are still discussing use of the space, which the city has so far allowed demonstrators to remain camping overnight.

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