Homeless shelters

Russellville Rural Fire Department

A fire station in Logan County has opened its doors to anyone who needs a warm place to sleep during these cold winter nights. 

One of the people who has been staying at the Russellville Rural Fire Department is an essential worker for the local ambulance service who has to get to her job on the morning shift.

Firefighters have been providing safe rides for essential workers who may have difficulty traveling over icy roads. 

Russellville Rural Fire Chief Cheryl Allen said she’s put the word out about the warming shelter. Logan County Search and Rescue Chief Terry Cole has been working with that team to locate people who have been staying outside in the dangerously cold temperatures.


When cold weather causes communities to open extra overnight space for the homeless, Daviess County will have a new ‘white flag’ shelter in place. 

Keeping homeless individuals safe and warm when the temperature gets dangerously cold requires an additional layer of safety during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Owensboro Christian Church will open its doors on white flag nights under an agreement with Daviess County Fiscal Court and the city of Owensboro.

Daviess County Deputy Director of Emergency Management John Clouse said the church is a large facility that will have the necessary space to serve as the region’s new white flag shelter. 

Jacob Ryan | WFPL

The men at the camp near Lexington Road stay busy chopping wood, cleaning dishes and fixing bikes. 

They sleep in ramshackle tents perched on the edge of a steep embankment. Cars buzz by on Lexington Road and a train rumbles overhead on a nearby viaduct.

Robert, who declined to share his last name because some family members don’t know he’s homeless, said he and the other residents try to stay clean. As coronavirus fears have taken hold, they’re using hand sanitizer delivered by homeless outreach groups. They boil water over the fire to wash dishes. 

And they’re strict about one recommendation — social distancing.

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.

When the temperature dips below 35 degrees, some Louisville homeless shelters open their doors to anyone who needs a bed, regardless of space.

These are called White Flag nights.

This week–after several inches of snowfall–temperatures dropped below zero in the Louisville area.

WFPL asked Thompson Williams,  a monitor at Wayside Christian Mission in downtown Louisville, to carry around a recorder and capture the sounds of a packed shelter on Wednesday, a White Flag night.

New federal regulations have exposed issues in Kentucky’s rural homeless shelters.

Changes to the federal HEARTH Act require shelters and transitional housing programs to work together to provide a ‘continuum of care’ to clients. That poses challenges for rural areas where services are more isolated.

According the Kentucky Housing Corporation’s Davey King, the changes have been smoother in urban areas like Louisville and Lexington.

“That’s much easier to implement because all of their providers are contained within that one county area, and it’s easier for them to make referrals from a shelter to a transitional housing program or to another shelter. When one shelter is full and they can’t serve somebody, they can easily refer somebody to another shelter.”

King also says that the expiration of federal stimulus funds has hampered their efforts to better coordinate between rural shelters.