Last updated: July 18. 2013 11:04PM - 141 Views
Cris Ritchie

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HAZARD – Hazard city officials say they hope a community meeting scheduled for next week can gather support to help get the Corner Haven homeless shelter up and running again at full capacity.

The homeless shelter continues this week to operate on a limited basis due to a lack of funds, noted Adrienne Bush, director of Community Ministries, the non-profit organization in Hazard that runs the shelter. Prior to May 22, the shelter had included transitional housing as one of its services to help homeless people get back on their feet, but when funding sources like the federal stimulus dried up, Community Ministries was forced to cut services at the shelter.

At present, the shelter only offers emergency housing each night. Community Ministries needs roughly $100,000 to keep the shelter open annually, or $50,000 through the winter months.

Bush said that despite the loss of funding necessitating cuts in services, those cuts have always been considered temporary until another round of funding could be obtained. She is currently awaiting word on a funding application recently made to the state, and Community Ministries was able to apply for more funds than in the past. She said she’s optimistic that the organization will get some funding to help re-open the shelter full time.

“I feel like we have submitted a strong application,” Bush said, “and we have a strong reputation across the state for providing quality services.”

Though Bush noted that she is hopeful she will know by the end of the month how much finding the organization will receive, officials in Hazard are stepping up efforts to glean help from local churches and other community members to help ensure there is enough money to re-open the shelter full time.

At present, the shelter sees an average of 12 people per night, though in 2011 there were 139 people in Perry County listed as homeless during the last major count of homelessness in the state, according to the Kentucky Housing Corporation. The shelter in Hazard provided more than 3,200 nights of shelter to 161 people in 2011, and an additional $55,000 to help prevent homelessness, according to information Bush provided. The shelter also provided 12,000 meals onsite.

Deputy Chief Joe Engle with the Hazard Police Department said there has been a definite difference in the picture of homelessness since the shelter was forced to cut services. Some of the people had tried to move to other areas of the city, while others have been looking elsewhere.

“A lot of them had moved underneath the parking structure, of course the city wouldn’t allow that,” Engle said. “It’s not sanitary and it’s dangerous. Some of them have been sleeping in cars and they just hang out wherever they can find a place to seek some kind of shelter.”

But with the cold winter months quickly approaching, their situations will increasingly become more dangerous if they are unable to find suitable shelter. That’s where next week’s meeting will hopefully come into play, Engle said, as officials are hopeful that they can get representatives from churches or other organizations to attend and help find a way to get the shelter back up and running before the winter arrives and the city’s homeless are left out in the cold.

“They need some place to go, and hopefully we can get some of these churches and different organizations involved,” Engle said. “Maybe county and city government can come up with a solution.”

Engle said several local and state officials have also been invited to the meeting, and urged anyone interested to attend as well. The meeting will be held at Hazard City Hall on Tuesday, September 18 at 1 p.m.

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