LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 11, 2013) — Mayor Jim Gray today said the city is not pursuing a proposal to locate a facility for Lexington’s homeless population at the Lorillard Lofts on Price Road east of downtown.
Ginny Ramsey, director of the Catholic Action Center and the Community Inn, organizations with no connection to the city, had proposed turning the lofts into a Wayfinder Center that would offer shelter and an array of services to those who are homeless. Ramsey has said it would cost approximately $5 million to buy the property and $1.6 million to rehab it.
“My staff met with Ms. Ramsey again today to let her know that, after serious consideration, we can’t support the Lorillard project,” Gray said, who added that in the past few weeks the idea has been explored in public meetings, meetings with Ramsey and discussions with council members. “The project doesn’t have the ingredients to make it successful, and there’s no feasible plan for the city to consider… The property does not have appropriate zoning; neighbors have serious concerns and questions that have not been addressed; it’s an aggressive and expensive concept with unidentified ongoing expenses; and there are no signed commitments for major funding or program support from community partners, which are essential to making it a reality.”
Over the past two decades, Lexington has made sizable investments in facilities on Loudon Avenue, including the Hope Center Emergency Shelter for Men, a cafeteria and a residential substance abuse program; as well as the Hope Centerfor Women and the Chrysalis House in the Versailles Road area.
“We’re always committed to finding more effective, more efficient ways to help,” the mayor said. “We welcome ideas from anyone, but we feel this isn’t the project to pursue right now.”
The city is committed to helping those in need and each year provides funding for shelters at the Salvation Army, the Hope Center, Arbor Youth Services and other social service agencies that provide a variety of services to those who are homeless, Gray said.
“In addition the city is preparing to take a lead role by establishing an office to coordinate homeless prevention and service delivery with community partners, including the Catholic Action Center, to find better ways to help and to make sure public funds are spent as effectively as possible.”
This new city office is one of the central recommendations from the Mayor’s Commission on Homelessness, which identified several areas where more programming is needed, including programs for people who are chronically homeless and have serious and persistent mental illness.