News and Tribune

Floyd County

August 10, 2013

An important task: Jeffersonville leaders target homelessness

Effort to help moves forward as bridge project magnifies homeless issue



Dedicating funding to hire a consultant to develop the 10-year strategic plan was brought to the city council Monday, after $15,000 was approved at a redevelopment commission meeting the week prior.

Councilman Bryan Glover asked how the plan would make people aware of the need for assistance.

“Most people you talk to, unless they go down there and see it, they don’t realize it’s a problem,” he said. “My fear is we get a great plan, but we don’t have anymore participation than we do now. I would like for that consultant to find a way for us to be able to communicate to the whole community. This is not a downtown problem, this is a Jeff problem [and] a regional problem.”

The regional problem is expected to get worse before it gets better, partially as a result of ongoing infrastructure projects.

“We also know from our emergency homeless providers, the folks actually on the street, that right on the other side of the Big Four Bridge there are several homeless camps, and it is absolutely their belief that when the Big Four Bridge project is completed that we will have an influx of additional homeless people,” said Beth Keeney, vice president of development with LifeSpring and a member of the task force.

With greater mobility the expectation is the flow of traffic across the walking bridge will increase due to the 20 to 30 homeless camps located in Louisville.

The Big Four bicycle and pedestrian bridge that will connect Louisville’s Waterfront Park to downtown Jeffersonville will not be the only bridge project affecting the area’s homeless.

“It might not be the city’s responsibility to take care of, but it is a problem, and whether you realize it or not it will be more of a problem with the new bridge,” Saegesser said.

The bridge Saegesser was referring to was the new downtown Interstate 65 bridge that is part of the Ohio River Bridges Project. Homeless camps located under the viaducts along I-65 are being displaced, creating new issues for the city.

“That’s causing an issue that we’ve been dealing with as a task force, trying to alleviate some of the stress there,” Saegesser said.

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