homeless

Rhonda J. Miller

The annual survey of the homeless in Kentucky called K-Count reveals that people often end up on the street or in a shelter because of relationship or medical issues.

Some who have become homeless offered to take part in the survey when they were in a Bowling Green shelter on the evening of Jan. 29, when the 2020 K-Count took place. 

On that night, seven women and 21 men seeking shelter arrived at Room in the Inn Bowling Green by the 5:30 p.m. registration time. 

After those 28 guests had been transported to host churches for the night, program coordinator Sharli Rogers hopped into her car.


Rhonda J. Miller

Community groups and volunteers across Kentucky are taking part this week in the annual count of the homeless. 

In Kentucky it’s called K-Count, and most of the counting was done Jan. 29 at homeless shelters, in the woods, behind buildings, and wherever people who have no place to live might be sleeping. 

Some of the count was also done at shelters on the morning of Jan. 30, with homeless individuals who were not counted on the previous night.

For the first time, K-Count data collectors used an app this year to upload information, in addition to traditional paper forms.

In the Bluegrass State the count is coordinated by the Kentucky Housing Corporation, with projects done regionally, mostly by social service nonprofits and volunteers.


Unsplash / Jon Tyson

Groups across Kentucky are preparing to participate in the nationwide count of the homeless that takes place at the end of January. In advance of the count, several training sessions are being offered during the week of Jan. 6 to 10.

The Kentucky Housing Corporation coordinates the state’s count of the homeless, called K-Count, that will be held this year on Wednesday, Jan. 29.

It’s part of the nationwide count of the homeless managed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Tori Henninger is executive director of Barren River Area Safe Space, or BRASS, which provides services for victims of domestic violence in a 10-county region in southern Kentucky.  

Henninger says many individuals, especially women, become homeless as a result of domestic violence, so BRASS is one of several organizations offering training to people who want to take part in the K-Count.


Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

Cancer was what finally pushed Kristi Reyes into living in her car.

The mother of four had worked all her life, starting at age 7 when she helped out at her family’s furniture store. Most of her work was in retail. It was paycheck-to-paycheck but she kept her kids together and a roof over their heads.

But then in 2012 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She started cycling through jobs because of the time she needed to take off for recovery from treatment. Soon, she was too sick to work at all and things continued to slide. She had Medicaid, what she calls a medical card, but it wasn’t enough.


Lisa Autry

With light snowfall and below freezing temperatures in much of Kentucky, some homeless shelters are welcoming guests early in the season.

Owensboro and Daviess County are under a White Flag designation through tomorrow, which allows the homeless to spend the night at a warming shelter and get a hot meal. 

Andy Ball heads the Daviess County Emergency Management Agency.  He says the program runs Nov. 1-Mar. 31, but demand typically doesn't come this early.

Barren River Area Safe Space

The newly released figures from the statewide count of the homeless, called K-Count, show the number has increased by about 600 over the past three years. The vast majority are not chronically homeless or living on the street.

The 2019 count of the homeless, coordinated by Kentucky Housing Corporation, shows that 4,079 people were in shelters, transitional housing or unsheltered on a designated day at the end of January.

This year that 'point-in-time' count was done by community organizations on Jan. 30. 

In 2018 there were 3,688 homeless individuals counted across Kentucky. In 2017, that number was about 3,400.


J. Tyler Franklin

A new program aims to connect vulnerable homeless adults with mental health help and housing.

The nonprofit organization Wellspring is launching the program with $100,000 from the city’s budget and $150,000 from the James Graham Brown Foundation. Wellspring CEO Katharine Dobbins said the program addresses what the homeless community has needed for a long time.

“I think this is an important service and I’ve got to believe it’s going to make a difference,” Dobbins said. “These are folks who’ve been pretty disenfranchised. Who’ve been pretty alienated. Who just really haven’t had a lot of support and haven’t been brought into the mainstream.”

Photo courtesy of HOMES, Inc.

Joe Oliver and Tony Brown peered into the dark crawl space beneath a Letcher County, Kentucky, home. Already, they could see problems. The crawl space had been blocked off with just a thin sheet of plywood; the posts supporting the house rested on uneven blobs of poured concrete; the whole place reeked of mold.

A gas leak detector beeped urgently at the meeting of two pipes.

Crawling on elbows and knees, ducking to avoid exposed pipes, Oliver and Brown found flood damage, poor ductwork, and one very large spider.


Mary Meehan

Charles “Country” Bowers takes long, quick strides down a worn dirt path and is soon in front of a thicket of bushes made deep and tall by spring rains.

He’s leading me on a tour of camps made by homeless people in wooded corners of Fayette County, Kentucky. He stops and lifts a hand to signal that he’s spied something.

Framed by leaves, slightly up the hill, there’s a patch of blue. A tent. He keeps his voice low to avoid startling those inside.


Feed My Sheep Ministries/Mitzi Dowell

There’s a new soup kitchen and warming center in Somerset and the homeless and the hungry are quickly finding their way there.

While she was volunteering at the Living Bread Soup Kitchen in Somerset for more than a year, Mitzi Dowell saw the community’s need for a place for the homeless to get out of the cold – not a shelter with background checks, but a warming center open to anyone when the temperature gets below 32 degrees.  

The door remains open as long as no one interferes with the safety of others.  

Dowell is a member of Somerset First Church of the Nazarene and felt the call to set up a soup kitchen along with the warming center.

She collaborated with the pastor, Mike Grant, and Feed My Sheep Ministries was born three weeks ago, with Dowell as director.

Two dozen overnight guests have already stayed at the warming center at Somerset First Church of the Nazareen. Dowell said the guests are a reminder that unexpected circumstances often cause a person to become homeless, like one man who showed up after serving in the military in Afghanistan. 


Salvation Army Bowling Green/facebook

Shelters and organizations across Kentucky are preparing to count the number of homeless people in their communities on Jan. 30. 

It's called K-Count and it's a 24-hour statewide count of homeless who are in shelters or 'unsheltered,' meaning staying outside in what’s described as "a place not meant for human habitation." 

K-Count is part of the annual count by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that’s required as a condition of funding for programs that serve the homeless. 

The Daniel Pitino Shelter in Owensboro will take part in the statewide project. The shelter serves women and families and can house up to 65 people a night. It also has a soup kitchen that can serve up to 175 people, seven days a week. 


Room in the Inn

As overnight temperatures become bitterly cold, shelters are open in Owensboro and Bowling Green. When there are not enough beds available, some homeless men and women have to be turned away, even if they have to get up in the morning to go to work.

Room in the Inn can accommodate about a dozen people per night in each host church that participates in its Bowling Green winter shelter program.  Beds are filled by a lottery system based on the number of beds available each night. 

Sharli Rogers is program coordinator for Room in the Inn Bowling Green, a winter shelter that’s been open since Nov. 15.

Rogers said the program coordinates with community churches, with each one providing beds for about a dozen people each night. But there have already been cold nights when 18 people asked for a bed and that number is expected to increase.


Lisa Autry

Most of us this time of year take for granted a warm home or hot meal, but sometimes the most basic necessities are out of reach for some.  Winter can be a dangerous time for the homeless, when frostbite can take hold in minutes amid numbing wind chills. 

When cold temperatures become a matter of life and death, homeless shelters fill up quickly, but some area churches in Bowling Green are filling the gap.

Flickr/Creative Commons/ BuzzFarmers

Bowling Green’s homeless population has increased slightly this year over 2016. However, local support groups believe the increase may be due to homeless individuals coming to the city from other areas.

The Kentucky Housing Corporation’s recently released count shows Warren County has a homeless population of about 150 people. That’s 22 more than were counted last year. Brent Childers, Director of Neighborhood and Community Services in Bowling Green, said some of the homeless people are coming from surrounding states and counties.

Flickr/Creative Commons

Two dozen Hardin County area nonprofits are trying to gain a better picture of the local homeless population.

The groups are hoping to draw 300 to 400 families to an event Wednesday afternoon in Elizabethtown.

Megan Stith, President and CEO of United Way of Central Kentucky, says the groups are reaching out to those who may have been missed during a statewide homeless count conducted earlier this year.

According to Stith, those could be people “who are living with relatives, in between housing situations and staying with friends, or have family staying in multiple locations, or staying in a shelter or some kind of temporary or transitional housing.”

Stith says the event will be a one-stop opportunity for those who are housing or food insecure in Hardin County to learn more about local programs that can help. Feeding America is providing food distribution at the event.

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