WINCHESTER, Ky. (LEX 18) — Kentucky organizations working to end homelessness for veterans said they have experienced a surge in calls for help in recent months.
At the Lady Veterans Connect’s Winchester facility, veterans experiencing homelessness are given a roof over their heads and a second chance at life.
“They’ve worked hard. They’ve served our country. They’ve just experienced some bad luck,” Executive Director Phyllis Abbott said.
The transitional housing program at ‘Anna’s House’ gives qualified women a year to get back on their feet.
Sometimes there are problems with applications or a lack of beds available, which means Abbott cannot accept some into the program.
When offering housing through the program isn’t possible, Abbot said she tried to find other ways to help veterans in need. Abbott said those instances are becoming more common.
“We’re getting more and more phone calls. Our biggest phone call request right now is food assistance,” Abbott said.
Abbott said they channel through calls for help with housing, too. She said sometimes people need a place to sleep for the night and they offer to book them a hotel room as a temporary solution. Other times, people reach out for help fixing their current houses that have been damaged in severe weather.
The Veterans’ Club also runs a transitional housing program for veterans. The organization’s ‘Veterans Village’ is a tiny home community made up of six houses where veterans who meet criteria can find help for a year.
“The reason why we help homeless veterans is because we want to take that burden and barrier off them,” said Veterans’ Club founder Jeremy Harrell. “They can’t focus on getting better or overcoming these challenges to get themselves out of the situation if they always have to focus on where they’re going to sleep and what they’re going to eat.”
Harrell said recently, calls for help have spiked.
“That’s a concern. We’ve received over ten phone calls in the last week about veterans who are being evicted,” Harrell said.
Harrell said those calls coincided with the end of the federal eviction moratorium of July 31.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended the eviction ban to Oct. 3, but Harrell said it still caused panic in the veteran community and put a spotlight on a larger issue.
“I know that the moratorium was extended, but there’s no guarantee that folks will receive the help they need,” Harrell said.
Harrell said his concern is the day evictions do resume, it will leave countless veterans on the streets and heighten the risk of suicide in an already vulnerable community.
“Not having a place to live, not knowing where your next meal is coming from, that’s enough to stress anyone out,” Harrell said.
Abbott and Harrell said their organizations are bracing for the day the eviction moratorium expires and the government decides to not extend it.
They said they need the community as a whole to step up and proactively help them mitigate the issue.
“In order for us to help with the folks who call day in and day out, we’re going to need community support,” Harrell said. “We really need to come together as a community because at the very least everyone deserves a right to have a place to live.”
“It’s going to take a community pulling together to address and alleviate this problem,” Abbott said.
Whether that help comes in the form of volunteering, donating, or simply calling to ask where they need assistance, Abbott and Harrell said it can make all the difference in the world.
Lady Veterans Connect is currently accepting applications for its transitional housing program. You can find the forms and more information on the resources they provide by visiting here.
The Veterans’ Club currently has one spot available in its Veterans Village. You can find the form to apply and also find more information on resources offered by the organization by visiting here.