Knowing Is Caring
Homelessness is incredibly complex. There are many ways to address it and many opinions about what is most needed. Emergency services, such as shelters and meal services that provide the basic needs of people experiencing homelessness, are needed. Working upstream in affordable housing, workforce development, and homelessness prevention is needed. But homelessness is community-wide, which means the solution also needs to be community-wide. The people working, directly and indirectly, to alleviate homelessness in our region of Louisville and Southern Indiana are working hard and working well, but this community is bigger than these organizations, and they need your help.
Access Ventures launched an initiative around homelessness and housing insecurity in 2017 because we saw a way for our resources to address a need. The first step was taking time to learn the landscape of needs and services in our community and meeting with the service providers and individuals who are already doing great work in our community. Talking with them to help identify pain points helped us see how truly complex homelessness is. After a year we built out a 3 pronged strategy; housing, workforce, and public perception.
Pre-pandemic, Louisville had an eviction rate of 4.82%. That’s 3x higher than New York City’s eviction rate and 2x the national average.
Pre-pandemic, Louisville had an eviction rate of 4.82%. That’s 3x higher than New York City’s eviction rate and 2x the national average. And with the eviction moratorium lifting, the amount of evictions is going to increase dramatically. About one-fifth of Kentuckians are behind on rent or mortgage payments and are at risk for eviction or foreclosure in the coming months.
While homelessness and housing insecurity is unfortunately not a problem unique to our community, it is one that needs to be addressed locally. Homelessness often doesn’t get the attention it requires and if you don’t directly work with the homeless, it’s easy to feel apathetic because of how big the problem seems. We want to change that. Although it is big and complex, how we think about and interact with homelessness in our community and work to grow in empathy is a great place to start.
Know Homelessness is a campaign we have launched within our larger initiative to address the public perception of homelessness in Louisville and Southern Indiana. Many of the individuals and organizations we have built relationships with over the past few years have acknowledged that a growing NIMBY-ism has impacted their ability to provide services to the people who need it. Whether it’s the inability to open a service in an area that demands it, due to zoning regulations and the community not in support of the services being offered near their homes, or the way people view and treat individuals experiencing homelessness, the public perception of homelessness is often misinformed. Public perception isn’t something that can change overnight. We built this campaign with numerous community partners to help the general public put a face to homelessness and learn the facts rather than act and think based upon false misconceptions about what homelessness is and who experiences it.
Homelessness is community-wide, which means the solution also needs to be community-wide.
During the month of August, you’ll notice cups and signs at many of the coffee shops in Louisville and Southern Indiana, including Heine Brothers, Quills Coffee, Coffee Crossing, McQuixote Coffee, Mickey’s, Bean, Full Stop, Safai Coffee, Logan Street Market, Kent Java Bar, and Pearl St. Coffee. Coffee shops are a place where people of all different backgrounds and socioeconomic status feel welcome and comfortable. Coffee shops offered a unique community atmosphere to showcase our campaign because they have the unique ability to spark conversations and get people thinking.
Throughout this campaign, we will tell the stories of real individuals who live in our community, experience homelessness or housing insecurity, and challenge the stereotypes people often have when thinking about people who are homeless. Through the Know Homelessness campaign and the activations within it, we hope to educate constituents in Southern Indiana and Louisville of the truths of homelessness in order to increase the collective empathy of people in our region towards homelessness. We hope, as a result, citizens are moved to action to volunteer, advocate, and/or donate, and the politicians that represent these people are more willing and accepting for social services to exist within their area of jurisdiction and create policies that reflect that.
We are excited to share this campaign and tell the stories of people living in our community, and for people to challenge their preconceived notions about homelessness and the individuals who experience it. If you are in our area of the country you can participate in the campaign by visiting any of our partner coffee shops. You can also visit knowhomelessness.com to learn more, watch the videos that share the stories of Jhala, Brittney, Matty, and Marcus, and learn how to take action and donate!