Diane Sawyer Goes Home: Louisville Focused on Solutions

Diane Goes Home: Louisville Focused on Solutions

At this summer's Kentucky Job Fair in Louisville, thousands lined up -- some in sleeping bags overnight -- just for the chance to fill out an application.

"Jobs are hard to come by," Louisville resident Vicki Petty said. "No matter how many applications you put in."

Another Louisville resident, Duane Campbell, said people had grown desperate.

"Some of them don't have their utilities on in their homes. ... No water, no lights," he said.

Bruised by the recession, Louisville is suffering through a 9.7 percent unemployment rate -- very close to the nation's average, 9.6 percent. "For sale" signs litter the city's neighborhoods.

VIDEO: Diane Sawyer returns home to Louisville to see how people are surviving through the recession.
'Going Home:' Hope in Louisville

But as "World News'" Diane Sawyer found as she returned to her hometown for the weeklong "Going Home" series, everyone is coming up with creative solutions to take care of each other -- mothers swapping kids' clothes, landlords giving tenants breaks on their rent and small businesses donating prom dresses for teenagers who can't afford them.

Anne Smith runs MUSCL, a multidenominational ministry of Christians, Jews and Muslims that has gotten the local utilities, like the electric and water companies, to help pay residents' bills.

Click here to visit MUSCL's website for information on how to donate.

"We're Band-Aid agencies, but boy the Band-Aids we put on," she said. "We can stop the bleeding for 30 days, just let them regroup and maybe gain some self-esteem back."

Todd Gary, once a thriving Louisville real estate agent, now goes months between sales. MUSCL paid his water bill. He said it was his first time ever having to ask for assistance.

"Water is life," Smith said. "We have stories of people getting buckets from next door and [using] the garden hose. The neighbors help them fill the bathtub. You have to have water to exist."

John Summers, owner of the Amoco Transmission on Dixie Highway for six years, said he was on the verge of closing in 2008 and '09. He said property owner Glen Elmore let him pay less than the standard rent rate for several months.

"I was just totally honest," Summers said. "I didn't have enough money, the set amount for rent that month. We talked about it [and he] was willing to work with me."

Summers said Elmore and wife Judy saved his business.

"Not a lot of landlords [are] willing to work with their tenants, but Glen and Judy were," Summer said. "Without that, I would have lost my business for sure, without a doubt in my mind."

"We're glad to help out and maybe it'll help John get a little extra business," Elmore said. "There's a lot of people right now who need a little help."

Louisville's Treasured Brown Hotel

When the Brown Hotel -- home to the world-famous Hot Brown sandwich, a mix of turkey, bacon, cheese and a secret sauce -- started feeling the effects of the recession, general manager Brad Walker said the staff got wary.

"In a down economy, people started getting concerned about coming in every day. The staff [was] concerned about losing benefits," he said. "We wanted to give them some assurance that wasn't going to happen."

So Walker came up with an idea: He cross-trained all of the hotel's employees, saving everyone's jobs.

"We were creative as much as we could be, trying to get positions and extra hours so that they could pay their bills," Walker said. "We had staff all over the hotel just to keep them fully employed on a full schedule."

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