Catholic Action Center opens new COVID-19 shelter in time for winter

Posted at 1:42 PM, Nov 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-03 19:09:55-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — As winter approaches, the Catholic Action Center has had to rethink how it'll help bring homeless people in from the cold.

In years past, the organization would let people pack into the shelter on the coldest nights. However, with COVID-19, that is not an option this year.

Therefore, it took over the office space above the CAC and turned it into a second shelter.

"This is a safe way for us to be able to expand the ministry and create a space that the folks can be kept safe during the COVID," CAC Director Ginny Ramsey said.

The new shelter has 80 beds, a few rooms for caseworkers to come in during the day, a lounge space, and a COVID-19 testing suite.

Ramsey said the suite has its own entrance and air filtration system that is separate from the main space.

Every new guest must take a COVID-19 test and get a flu shot before being allowed to stay at the shelter.

If someone does test positive, there is an apartment at the shelter that will be utilized as an isolation space. Up to four people can stay in the apartment. It has a kitchenette, porch, and its own air filtration system.

Those who test negative will stay in the main areas.

"It's not going to take care of everybody," Ramsey said. "There are a lot of folks who are suffering through homelessness but this way we can at least increase the number, take care of these folks, and know that they're safe through this COVID winter."

The Mother Teresa Shelter is scheduled to open on Friday. Ramsey said it was funded entirely through community donors.

The new shelter will remain open for as long as COVID-19 remains an issue. When it is no longer needed, Ramsey said it will turn into a service for the guests at the CAC. For example, Mountain Comprehensive Care or Health First could move into the building.