As public spaces close, shelters brace for influx of people in need

Posted at 3:10 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 15:10:28-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — When the weather turns sour, many in the homeless community seek refuge in public spaces, like libraries and churches.

As more places close to help minimize the spread of COVID-19, these resources become few and far between.

"For the homeless guests we serve, they can't sequester at home. They can't quarantine at home. So especially those who are unsheltered, who are living outside, it's a whole other level for them," said Laura Carr, Chief Operating Officer for the Lexington Rescue Mission.

The Lexington Rescue Mission serves hundreds of people a year. With businesses changing their hours and closing their doors, Carr said those numbers could rise.

"We're rallying and just taking it day by day, doing what we can to make sure that the people we serve get what they need," she said.

However, in order to meet recommendations from state and health officials, they're having to adjust their practices.

The Lexington Center continues to serve food to those in need, however has transitioned to distributing carry-out boxes of food rather than serve them on reusable plates.

"That means we're going through a lot of those supplies a lot quicker than we would ever normally do," said Carr.

Carr also said they're trying to encourage people to stay at least six feet apart and are moving and keep as many services running as they can.

"With a lot of our residents who are coming out of drug and alcohol addictions, not having access to regular recovery meetings and things that they would normally have is really stressful," she said.

The Lexington Rescue Mission is also considering opening their outdoor areas to people who may want to set up a tent. This is part of their effort to reduce the number of people sleeping in a single room at a time.

For more information on services offered by the Lexington Rescue Mission or how you can help, visit their website.