New federal regulations have exposed issues in Kentucky’s rural homeless shelters.
Changes to the federal HEARTH Act require shelters and transitional housing programs to work together to provide a ‘continuum of care’ to clients. That poses challenges for rural areas where services are more isolated.
According the Kentucky Housing Corporation’s Davey King, the changes have been smoother in urban areas like Louisville and Lexington.
“That’s much easier to implement because all of their providers are contained within that one county area, and it’s easier for them to make referrals from a shelter to a transitional housing program or to another shelter. When one shelter is full and they can’t serve somebody, they can easily refer somebody to another shelter.”
King also says that the expiration of federal stimulus funds has hampered their efforts to better coordinate between rural shelters.
James Barnett of the Daniel Pitino Shelter in Owensboro says his agency is seeing more "first-time" homeless than ever. Barnett says the difficult economy has forced people who had never sought assistance in the past to ask for help.