Today we are not advocating for our respective agencies, but for the people we serve. We understand the complexities of the financial burden on the city at this time, but as the compassionate city we claim to be, we must prioritize to ensure the poor and most vulnerable do not experience disproportionate, solvable hardships so devastating that they cannot recover.
In reaction to the pension crisis, Metro Government is threatening to respond by placing the burden directly on our most vulnerable population. This significant budget reduction will permanently close doors to many vital programs. If these changes are confirmed, thousands of low-income families will lose their home, go without water or electricity, be hungry, and stay trapped in systemic poverty.
The Association of Community Ministries (ACM) serves all of Jefferson County and is the principal distributor of emergency assistance to individuals and families facing a crisis. Our informed support helps our neighbors overcome unforeseen challenges that, without attention, could quickly turn into more permanent hardship.
Through our partnership with LG&E and Louisville Water Company, we ensure that more than 10,000 families every year have running water, heat in the winter, and air in the summer. We are also joined today by many leaders of faith communities that rely on our services to help organize and distribute assistance when people come to their doors for help. We partner with more than 300 churches throughout Jefferson County, and through that network, are able to help thousands more reach stability.
We work alongside The Neighborhood Place which is itself also facing budget cuts: a third in 2020 and an additional third in 2023, leaving only two out of eight buildings open. With the proposed budget reduction, the community ministries will lose half of its funding in 2020 and then the remainder in 2022. Many of the 15 agencies within the community ministries’ network, who are connected to the neighborhoods and know the residents, will have to close their doors permanently.
Emergency financial assistance is the most tangible and effective support someone can receive to prevent an unexpected crisis from unraveling into a cascade of losses. Without these organizations, Louisville loses it’s safety net, and without that net, dire consequences will occur. What do we tell the single mother who lost her job and can’t scrape enough together for rent in the in-between months? Or the young woman recently injured and stops paying the water bill to cover the medical expenses? Or the 75-year old who has to take care of their grandchildren unexpectedly but is on a fixed income? Without community organizations who know the vulnerable, hear their stories, discern the needs, and help build bridges out of crisis, Louisville will grow in troubling statistics. How many more will be living in cars, or struggling to get by in a home without water, or feeding six with enough food for two?
This isn’t hyperbole. These are the stakes.
We ask you to remember those living in poverty and changing circumstances. Let us move forward with caution and with the compassion we’ve been so bold to celebrate. If we fail to think of the low-income community during these difficult times, then so much of Louisville’s pride and reputation will have been just for show.