LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) -New numbers out Wednesday show there are 4,000 homeless people in Kentucky. Lexington has just over a thousand on the streets, in shelters, and in temporary housing. It’s slightly more than Louisville, a larger city. But despite these numbers, the city says its work to end homelessness continues to make steady progress.
The agencies that serve people experiencing homelessness in Lexington are working together to break down barriers to housing. Lee Mitchell, a volunteer at Dining with Dignity says he sees most of the same faces everyday, struggling to find a job.
“A lot of the stereotypical is that they are either drug addicts or they just don’t care about life, they are lazy and don’t want to do nothing. A lot of that is not the case, you know I talked to a man the other day he was from North Carolina, he was here because his kids were here. he came here with 100 dollars in his pocket and he’s yet to been able to find a job and he’s been here a few weeks.”
According to the Kentucky Housing Corporation, a majority of those reported homeless, are for the first time. ABC 36 met a man named Alphonso at Dining with Dignity who says he’s lived on the streets for about a month. Paralyzed from the waist down, he says it’s either rent or saving up for a wheelchair.
“This old man, he’s got a place and stuff so he’s going to let me rent it then for $300 a month, you know what I mean, so I need that to try to get my electric wheelchair.”
ABC 36 met another person who says he has been homeless for just over a year.
Living out of a shopping cart, the College Grad and Veteran says he sees many people around town just like himself.
“I’ve had people rob me, then i met some really good people though too, you know. so i mean you know you just have to deal with the good and the bad, it’s a really rough life you know being out on the streets.”
Mayor Jim Gray said in a statement that “Homelessness is a complex issue that requires a complex solution.” Local volunteer Mitchell says his organization is always willing to help.
“In my opinion what would help it would be, more low income housing, better paying wages, jobs for certain situations and for certain people and really just you know get out in the community more and talk to people to see what would actually benefit them one-on-one.”
According to the Lexington office of Homelessness Prevention and Intervention, working with the most vulnerable citizens first, they have reduced the number of chronically homeless individuals and families by over 60% since 2014.