Louisville budget cuts would threaten well-being of Louisville families

By Jennifer Hancock, Volunteers of America Mid-States President and CEO

At Volunteers of America Mid-States, we work closely with Louisville Metro Government to make a difference in the lives of families who need our help most.

We partner with Mayor Greg Fischer, Metro Council President David James and Louisville Metro Council members on a range of vital programs. Volunteers of America is one of very few places that families facing homelessness can access emergency housing, remain together and receive help finding stable, long-term housing options.

We administer a mobile syringe exchange program that has helped to slow the spread of infectious disease, including HIV and hepatitis C. We are on the frontlines battling the opioid and addiction crisis, providing state-of-the-art care to pregnant and parenting moms and helping them start new and healthy lives. For every dollar we receive from government to do this life-saving work, we save approximately $6.

Volunteers of America follows the needs — and the needs are many. We are called to do this work and our mission is to create positive change in the lives of Louisville families.

Unfortunately, this work is threatened by the Metro budget crisis.

As Mayor Fischer has detailed, mandated pension payments threaten our city’s ability to provide vital services and care. Our work is essential to the health and safety of Louisville residents, but without a solution to this revenue shortfall, that work is endangered. Specifically, our programs that house Louisville families — which are already significantly underfunded — would be closed. The potential cuts Fischer has outlined would eliminate the mobile syringe exchange program — affecting the health of all of us and reducing our ability to prevent overdoses by moving people into treatment.

Quite simply, these budget cuts will threaten the well-being of the people of Louisville.

Mayor Fischer and Metro leaders have always shared our vision — one in which we all work together to ease the burden of those in need. We cannot abandon the 52 children living in our family shelter today or the 10 healthy babies born already this year to women in our Freedom House program. We strongly support efforts to fund programs that keep Louisville safe and healthy, and pledge our support in any way we can to reach this urgent goal.

Jennifer Hancock is president/CEO of Volunteers of America Mid-States.

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