The Louisville Downtown Management District is considering an initiative that would help prevent panhandling and homelessness downtown while helping those on the streets find loved-ones to live with. The idea is similar to a program in Nashville called Homeward Bound that helps transport eligible homeless people to a friend or relative’s home, said Ken Herndon, director of operations with the Louisville Downtown Management District. But in Louisville, the court system would be involved, he said.
The plan would, “basically ask the judges to ask one more question during the process, Is there a place you’d like to be and are there people that can be there when you get there,” Herndon said.
Critics of similar programs have said that homelessness isn’t dealt with, it’s just moved. But that’s not the intent, said Herndon.
“We’re trying to provide an opportunity to provide the people who are on the street who can’t get back to where they’d like to be. And if it also happens to reduce panhandling for us that’s good too, but the point is, if they have a place they want to go and they can’t get there, we want to help them get there,” Herdon said.
The program targets a very specific group and it’s uncertain how large of an effect it would have, said Natalie Harris, executive director of Louisville’s Coalition for the Homeless.
Herndon will travel to Nashville in a couple weeks and meet Tom Turner, president of Nashville Downtown Partnership, which heads Homeward Bound. The program has transported around 350 people the past few years and spends around $150 on average for each transport, said Turner.
Homeward Bound does not involve the courts and Turner said it’s likely that partnership would benefit Louisville’s proposed program.