LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 2, 2016) – Homelessness in Lexington has declined more than 26 percent since 2014, and chronic homelessness has been cut in half, according to data released today by the city’s Office of Homelessness Prevention & Intervention.
Mayor Jim Gray announced also that the city learned this morning Lexington has received a $333,323 federal grant for Rapid Rehousing, rental assistance to help people leave shelters and the streets for permanent housing. Community Action Council will operate the program. The city coordinated and submitted the grant application.
“These data show our major investments in homelessness and affordable housing are making an impact,” Gray said. “We still have much work to do, but Lexington is on the right path to ensure this is a Great American City, where everyone can find access to affordable housing and the necessary supports and opportunities to thrive.”
After a city homelessness report issued in January 2014, the city hired a director of homelessness to implement the report’s recommendations and coordinate its strategies.
Data released today is from the 2016 Point In Time Count conducted in January by the Office of Homelessness. Dozens of volunteers visited more than 60 locations, including homeless shelters, to count and survey people experiencing homelessness. The 2016 count found 1,064 people living on the streets, in shelter or in transitional housing on the night of January 27, 2016. That reflects a decrease from 1,453 people in 2014 and 1,258 in 2015.
Other highlights from the data include a more than 50 percent decrease since 2015 in people meeting the definition of chronic homelessness, which is someone with a disability who has been homeless for more than a year or has had four or more separate incidents of homelessness in three years that total a year or more.
“We also believe we have nearly ended veteran homelessness in Lexington,” said Charlie Lanter, director of the city’s Office of Homelessness. “For two years now we have found just one or two veterans on the street, and we’ve seen the number of vets in shelter decline by almost half and even further since this count was conducted.”
Lanter called the veterans’ homeless rate “functional zero” because there is capacity to house all those they know of.
Since 2014, the city of Lexington has invested heavily in homelessness prevention and intervention and affordable housing. The city allocates $2 million annually to an Affordable Housing Trust Fund and the Office of Homelessness receives $750,000 to develop innovative and sustainable solutions to homelessness.
In less than two years the Office of Homelessness has supported a Housing First Pilot Project, creation of a Mental Health Court, startup of an Emergency Family Housing Program, and initiation of a Street Outreach Project, among other interventions.