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Report: More Kentuckians Could Find Themselves on Brink of Being Homeless

January 23, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Fewer Kentucky families and veterans found themselves homeless in the past two years - a positive sign during rough economic times. But a new report from the National Alliance to End Homelessness says that scenario is bittersweet.

Steve Berg, Alliance vice president for programs and policy, says at least some credit for those improving numbers goes to $1.5 billion in stimulus money for homelessness prevention and re-housing during the recession.

"On the other hand, all those underlying economic problems are still very bad and the money that was part of the stimulus bill is running out in many communities, so we're still very concerned that the good news is not going to last."

Berg says homelessness in Kentucky can come about in many forms. Low-income people who are "doubled up," living with someone else because they can't afford their own place, can easily end up homeless if conflict arises. He says there's another population in Kentucky that's a concern, too.

"The number of people discharged from prison in Kentucky, for example, went up, and people who are just getting out of prison are at great risk of homelessness, we've found over the years."

Berg says maintaining some of the improvements Kentucky has seen on homelessness comes down to making a financial commitment to the programs stimulus money kick-started.

"These programs actually save money by keeping people out of shelters, by keeping people out of emergency rooms of hospitals, by keeping people out of jail. So, it's a good investment - people just have to think to do it."

The Alliance report estimates that between the Louisville and Jefferson County metros, more than 1,600 people are without a place to live. Berg notes that Kentucky has one of the more challenging populations to measure because of its rural makeup. When homelessness is spread out geographically, it's harder to gauge, he says.

The full report is available at www.endhomelessness.org.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - KY