Free food, clothes at libraries as part of homeless count

-A A +A
By Kenny Colston

Several local agencies are teaming up to help accurately count the homeless in Oldham County.

Led by Good News Homes and the Oldham County Public Library, the groups are hoping the area’s homeless will visit one of the three public library branches in Oldham County on Jan. 28 to be counted as part of a state and federal program.

Stephanie Skeens, director of Good News Homes, said the issue of homelessness in Oldham County is a tricky one, because the county’s homeless don’t operate the same way as they do in urban areas.

“They’re not living in cars, on the street or under the highway,” she said. “Here, they’re likely living with another family, or two or three generations crowding in one home.”

Skeens said in previous years, the counts have been difficult and often inaccurate to the county’s true homeless population. Unlike nearby Louisville, where organizations can walk the streets and shelters and count, there’s no homeless shelter in Oldham County to go to.

“In downtown Louisville you can find homeless camps,” she said. “We don’t have homeless camps that we know of.”

For Skeens, the county’s homeless are likely in one of Good News Homes’ apartments or housed up by another agency in a hotel. Or, they stay with other families or family members to stay off the street. They often don’t show up to be counted as homeless, for various reasons.

But this time, Skeens is hoping any of the county’s homeless, whether they are living on the street or with others, will show up at either the main library in La Grange, the library at Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve or the South Oldham Library to be counted on Jan. 28.

Those who do will be treated to free meals at any point in the day and if needed, help getting into a shelter in Louisville or with transportation. They can also receive blankets, coats and other winter weather necessities, Skeens said.

Bethany Morse, the public services outreach librarian at OCPL, said her organization decided to become the counting centers because part of their mission is community outreach.

“We really want the library to be the go to community center for the county’s needs,” she said. “We see a good amount of the county’s homeless population that come in already.”

Morse said the library already works closely with several non-profit agencies, although this is the first time they’ve volunteered their locations for such an event. With the longer than normal business hours set-up, plus their locations spread out throughout the county, Morse said the libraries were the “perfect location to be the hub.”

Skeens hopes the great locations, plus incentives, will get more people to come be counted.

The idea is to more accurately reflect the county’s homeless to receive more state and federal funds to help those in need, she said.

“The more need we can show, the more we can get,” Skeens said. “My frustration is, right now I don’t have any housing to give them.”

Email us about this story at editor@oldhamera.com.