LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The excessive heat has prompted the ACLU of Kentucky to request the city of Louisville to stop clearing homeless encampments.

What You Need To Know

  • The ACLU of Kentucky asked the Louisville deputy mayor to stop homeless encampment clearings during extreme heat

  • An encampment in the Portland Neighborhood was cleared this week, with another scheduled for Aug. 31

  • The mayor's office says city employees visit camps regularly trying to connect homeless residents with area shelters

  • During 'White Flag' days Wayside Christian Mission has space for 650 beds

In a letter to the deputy mayor, the ACLU included a list of demands they feel will better serve the city’s homeless population. The mayor’s office has responded, saying city staff is making contact with homeless residents daily during dangerous weather to help connect them with resources and a path to stable housing.

The ACLU is asking city officials to cancel any plans to clear encampments until the White Flag period of extreme heat is complete, communicate to encampments, definitively, that they will not be cleared, establish additional shelters and cooling centers and distribute summer care packages containing water, reusable bottles and nonperishable foods according to the letter.

The mayor’s office says its homeless outreach team is visiting camps daily, providing bottles of water, alerting residents of scheduled clearings and, perhaps most importantly, connecting them with Louisville shelters and other resources.

The mayor’s press secretary, shared this statement with Spectrum News 1: “While our homeless services team is committed to outreach and support, we must also focus on limiting the growth of encampments, especially in areas around schools, neighborhoods and other family gathering places, in the interest of public safety. Public spaces should be safe and accessible for everyone.”

A clearing notice posted near a homeless encampment (Spectrum News 1/Jonathon Gregg)

On the day a camp was cleared in the Portland neighborhood, Spectrum News spoke to Nina Moseley, the executive director of the Wayside Christian Mission. Moseley says during ‘White Flag’ days, when temperatures reach 95 degrees, they have 650 overnight beds available.

“It’s a step for some people to go from street camping to indoors, so we hope that they take this step now while there are people here to help them. We’re not turning anyone away,” Moseley said.

Mosley says Wayside volunteers visit camps every day providing food and water and encourage people to come in out of dangerous weather.

At the same time, the ACLU is asking the city to stop clearing encampments. The mayor's office says items found at camps have included, open fires, weapons, furniture blocking sidewalks, human feces and drugs.

The Louisville Department of Public Works has posted a clearing notice in the area between Breckenridge and Kentucky Street, scheduled for next Thursday.