Lexington homeless shelter battling cold weather & COVID

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – With cold weather creeping in homeless shelters are faced with a new problem – help people get out of the cold, or keep those already inside safe.

Ginny Ramsey, director of the Catholic Action Center, said that’s the problem she’s up against and it’s a harsh reality.

“It was very difficult in March having to start saying, ‘No, we can’t take you. We have to keep this core group safe,’” Ramsey said.

She says it’s only gotten harder as the cold weather set in.

“During this cold time, this bitter cold, this, ya know, killing time, it’s been tremendously difficult for all of us.”

Around this time, Ramsey says the shelter would typically be full of people needing help, but due to COVID, much of the population has remained the same since March and everyone is tested once a week.

“We’re used to, particularly in this cold weather, being able to send out our ‘Compassionate Caravan’ to pick folks up and bring them in and keep them warm and have them there for just one night or two or whatever,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey says, luckily, the center has added an additional space, which has helped increase capacity and she even has a few spots left.

Even still, she knows many are being left out in the cold. That’s why the center’s caravan makes its rounds across the city looking for people to help, even if they can’t go back to the shelter.

Ramsey says on Christmas Eve, one driver saved a homeless man’s life.

“Thomas stopped to go see him and realized that the man was unresponsive and he was frozen to the sidewalk and he was turning purple,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey says moments like that remind her that the center’s work is still important, even if it’s different than before.

She encourages everyone to do their part if they see a homeless person in the bitter cold.

“Don’t hesitate,” Ramsey said. “Don’t make an assumption, oh, somebody had too much to drink or something and passed out. Even if that’s the reason, they can freeze to death.”

The Catholic Action Center takes new people in, if space is available, on Mondays and Fridays – starting again on January 4.

Ramsey says the Salvation Army and the Hope Center has room for more people.

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