Homeless shelters

When the temperature dips below 35 degrees, some Louisville homeless shelters open their doors to anyone who needs a bed, regardless of space.

These are called White Flag nights.

This week–after several inches of snowfall–temperatures dropped below zero in the Louisville area.

WFPL asked Thompson Williams,  a monitor at Wayside Christian Mission in downtown Louisville, to carry around a recorder and capture the sounds of a packed shelter on Wednesday, a White Flag night.

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.

Owensboro-Daviess County Tourist Commission

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.