“We’ve still got work to do, but we’re making progress,” Mayor Jim Gray said in a news release. “Our work and investments are beginning to pay off.”
In 2005, 882 people were found to be homeless in Lexington during the annual complete count exercise. This number continued to trend upward, reaching its peak in both 2011 and 2014, with over 1,500 homeless on any given night in Lexington. Results from the 2018 count show that 685 people slept on the streets, in an emergency shelter or in transitional housing on the night of January 24.
“Today is a moment to pause and recognize our progress, celebrate what has worked, and assess the great challenges that still lie ahead,” added Polly Ruddick, Director of the Office of Homelessness Prevention and Intervention (Passport partners with the Office to help improve the health and quality of life of all Kentuckians). “Every night there are still about 700 people in our community with no place to call home, and many hundreds more on the margins, fighting to stay off the streets. Our work continues until everyone in Lexington has access to opportunities, support services, and safe, decent, affordable housing.”
In addition to the overall numbers, Lexington is also seeing improvements in:
- The number of veterans who are homeless. In 2014, 203 homeless veterans were reported on the night of the count; this year only 92 veterans were found to be homeless, a difference of 54.6%.
- The number of people who are chronically homeless. In 2014, 186 individuals were reported to have been living on the streets or in an emergency shelter for longer than a year, as compared to 92 people this year.
“Permanent housing is now the priority. And it’s working – we have significantly fewer people sleeping on the street,” Gray said.
The annual homeless count is conducted each January, and is required for communities receiving federal homeless funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Teams of volunteers visit outdoor sites where people experiencing homelessness have been known to congregate, while shelters and housing programs report their occupancy. This year, 18 teams canvassed over 100 locations throughout Lexington and Fayette County.