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The Changing Face of Homelessness in KY

November 16, 2009

FRANKFORT, Ky. - There's a changing face on homelessness in Kentucky, and this week the Governor's office and advocacy groups want people to take a close look at it. This is Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week in the Commonwealth, and those close to the issue say people without proper places to live aren't always those you might imagine them to be.

Gerry Roll with the Kentucky Interagency Council on Homelessness says many have jobs, but not jobs that provide them the kind of paychecks they need to live decently.

"You can't support children, you can't pay for day care, you can't have transportation, you certainly can't get health care, and much less housing with electricity, if you're just making minimum wage."

Roll says Kentucky also suffers from a problem of trying to identify what defines proper housing. She says people in need are stretching some housing to the limit.

"Multiple generations of family doubled up, or friends doubled up with friends, and then we have an issue with substandard and severely substandard housing in the rural parts of the state."

The answer, says Roll, is more coordinated efforts between the agencies in Kentucky trying to tackle the homeless problem. Part of that solution involves not just outreach, but follow-up, to make sure people who get help can eventually help themselves.

"They don't have to end up in a system where they don't have the necessary tools to recover from that incident, whatever it is, that threw them into homelessness."

Unemployment rates rose in all 120 Kentucky counties between September 2008 and September of this year, and at 10.9 percent, Kentucky's unemployment figure is almost a full point higher than the national average.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - KY