Agency asks for help in locating those living on the streets and in
By Eugenia Jones
Welcome House, a Covington-based non-profit serving those experiencing homelessness, will begin providing street outreach homes services in McCreary and the nine additional counties in the Lake Cumberland Region. The homeless agency has been providing wrap around services to those living in Northern Kentucky for almost 40 years. The non-profit organization was awarded $314,221 from the federal CARES Act to provide immediate access to homeless services in the Lake Cumberland area, which has previously not seen a street outreach program.
Welcome House will be able to help homeless McCreary Countians with basic necessities, access to benefits, and some housing assistance. The organization will provide immediate and/or emergency connection to resources in the ten county region, which could include physical, mental, and substance use treatment, food resources, providing basic necessities like food, water, and hygiene items. Welcome House will also work closely with the Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky (HHCK) and their Rapid Re-Housing Program to connect individuals and families to housing resources. With the funding, Welcome House will employ four outreach case managers who live in the Lake Cumberland area to assist those experiencing homelessness.
“This is a great opportunity for us to start serving our most vulnerable neighbors who reside in Kentucky-we have never served the homeless population this far south,” explains Amanda Couch, VP of Programs. “There is a common misperception that homelessness is only in urban cores, but this simply isn’t true. This is why there is such a huge need to provide homeless service throughout the state.”
Couch noted the program will be one of building an arsenal of resources to support those homeless and will be a boots on the ground type of program.
“Our goal is to make connection with each county, its residents and businesses as we become more of a presence in each county,” Couch explained. “The homeless can contact us at 859-431-8717, and we go to them. A lot of times we are contacted by the agencies or residents of the county that personally know someone is sleeping outside or know where encampments are. Once we get that information, we go to those locations. Sometimes it may take a while to establish relationships and gain trust from those experiencing homelessness. We will keep trying and keeping coming around until that trust is established. If willing, we will assess their needs, and provide information for resources in their county. We can also provide hygiene, food, and water.”
Welcome House’s goal is for the program to continue after the CARES funding expires. It will be up to them to determine the need and to connect those in need with resources. Collecting reliable data is crucial. Forming strong relationships in the community-especially those individuals who already provide assistance-will be invaluable to the program’s future success.
Couch asks McCreary Countians who know of any individuals who are living on the streets or in encampments to contact Welcome House.
“Please, reach out if you know of any individuals living in these situations,” Couch urged. “No one knows the area better than the people that work and reside in the county, so building solid relationships is vital to our success. We are providing our Northern KY phone number for the time being (859-431-8717), but that will change within a week or two, and we should be able to provide a local phone number that will connect directly to our street outreach staff.”
Although, most of the homeless in McCreary County are primarily individuals who are couch surfing or living in vehicles, there have been unverified reports of individuals living in abandoned buildings or wooded areas.
“We are really proud to fulfill a much needed service in this part of the state,” Couch said. “So many of the people we meet have exhausted all of their living options. Unfortunately, in this region, they have never had the programs to help this particular population.”
For more information about Welcome House, please call 859-431-8717 or visit www.welcomehouseky.org.