Survey shows disheartening result on homelessness in Central Kentucky

Posted at 6:00 PM, Sep 26, 2023

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Central Kentucky has a homeless problem. That is nothing new, but the survey results demonstrated how problematic it is and involved children on a level many experts didn’t anticipate.

“Alarming, yes,” said Laura Babbage, a board member with the Catholic Action Center.

CAC and the Central Kentucky Housing and Homeless Initiative led a one-night campaign to find as many of Lexington’s homeless people as possible. It didn’t matter if they lived in the street, in a car, in a shelter, were hospitalized that night, or shared an apartment with someone by sleeping on a couch. Each of those factors was considered and resulted in a homeless population of 2,419 people. Hundreds of them were children.

“I think it’s just unfair that someone would have to leave school and have nowhere to go,” said Grayson Daniels during a press briefing to unveil the survey results.

Grayson is a 4th grader at Meadowthorpe Elementary School. He said he wasn’t sure if his friends were in that position, but he couldn’t know that some were not.

As was noted during the presentation, when a child has no home, the barriers to learning become even greater the next day at school, and the cycle continues.

“We are a compassionate community that cares about its people,” Mrs. Babbage said. “The fact that we have children who are going to school but have no home is unacceptable. We can’t allow that to happen,” she added.

To that end, the Give Kids a Home Campaign solicits donations to help alleviate this problem. Babbage said she knew the survey would be hard to process emotionally but had no idea the problem would be this widespread. She’s hoping they got it done soon enough to make a difference very soon.

“We have to make sure the community hears these numbers before the winter and the cold and the snow set in,” she said.

Nearly 1,000 Fayette County Public School students were displaced on some level during the 2022-23 school year. August’s survey showed the number to be more than 450 children presently without a proper home.

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton issued the following statement on the homelessness presentation:

“There really is no direct comparison between these two counts of people who are homeless. The Catholic Action Center count used different definitions of homelessness, and different methods in taking the count than the City uses with LexCount each year. However, no one disputes that there are people experiencing homelessness in Lexington, and that is a challenge, no matter the number. Our city invests millions of dollars each year on shelters and programs for those in need of housing, an investment that continues to increase – the city expects to operate a temporary facility this winter to provide additional shelter, and will soon provide funds for New Life Day Center to expand its operating hours. We spend millions more on the development and preservation of affordable housing. We opened a new complex today that added 250 new affordable apartments, and there’s more to come. We are deeply committed to working with all partners, including the schools, on tackling this issue, and appreciate the volunteers who share our commitment to this cause.”

If you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation to “Give Kids a Home,” you can do so through their PayPal QR code or by mailing a check or money order to Give Kids a Home, P.O. Box 324, Lexington, Ky. 40588