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Mission Spotlight: Louisville Outreach for the Unsheltered

Service, Outreach, and Program Expansions

By David Smillie, Executive Director

It’s been a while since we gave you an update on what LOU is up to in our community. While many of you have been engaged in our food delivery to the unsheltered, we are expanding our services to include much more.

Outreach.  Our time-tested system of outreach has continuously served the unhoused population on the streets of Louisville with food and basic survival necessities every Sunday for the past dozen years (including those of our predecessor Fed with Faith). We are now providing services throughout the week, such as acting as fast response outreach during extreme and inclement weather. Outreach is about relationships, and trust and consistency are key building blocks toward helping our neighbors with the steps necessary to build or rebuild self sufficiency and safe, stable housing.

Emergent Housing Needs.  As the first referral for The Coalition for the Homeless to families experiencing homelessness, we are the frontline team in these situations. We frequently assist families by providing temporary hotel stays until a vacancy opens on the family emergency shelter list. In addition, we supply them with food, hygiene supplies, resource guidance, and internal case management. On any given week, this list typically has 12-20 families on it. So, prior to our intervention, these families are sleeping outside, in cars, or in abandoned buildings. Our goal is to keep families safe and together until they can get into a program designed to help facilitate long term change, housing and food security, job training, access to governmental assistance, and self-sufficiency.

Case Management, Referral, & Advocacy.  LOU’s approach to case management includes assistance with transportation, executive function, planning, establishing identity, completing applications, and so much more. These sometimes overlap with the work of sister organizations and other community resources, as well as the following LOU services:

  • Referral. One of our key roles is the referral of individuals to the appropriate community resource. We are knowledgeable about interdependent programs and agencies in Louisville, and receive hundreds of calls weekly. While this program’s scope is limited by funding and space, our ability to triage and match neighbors with others in the non-profit network is one of our most impactful services.
  • Advocacy. This is a key component to every facet of our work. Individuals and families experiencing homelessness have often reached a state of “learned helplessness” where advocating for themselves becomes daunting and difficult.

Ongoing Needs & Assistance.  While ever-grateful for the funding and space provided by Beargrass over the years, our client population has grown and with that, so have the food, hygiene, blanket, and other survival item needs of those we serve. In addition, we sometimes need home furnishings for those fortunate enough to find indoor living space. If you can assist in any of these areas, please reach out to us here: [email protected] or 502.777.6787.