Two emergency homeless shelters set up downtown during the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games were a success, and plans for opening a permanent day center are being pursued.
"There were wonderful, wonderful things that happened. It was a blessing," Ginny Ramsey, director of the Catholic Action Center, said Friday of the shelters used during the Games.
The shelters averaged 73 people a night for 19 nights. Next week specifics on those numbers will be released.
One shelter was located in a building on Corral Street owned by Central Christian Church, the other at the Catholic Action Center on East Fifth Street.
The Central Christian building had cots and slept more than 50 people; the Catholic Action Center, with only chairs set up, had about 20 people each night.
Organizers of Saturday's Sleepless in Lexington — an outdoor sleepover held in Applebee's Park to draw attention to the plight of the homeless — are designating proceeds from the event for a day center for the homeless, said Steve Polston, chairman of the sleepover.
Sleepers are asked to get 10 donations of at least $10 each.
"We've identified lack of a day center as the greatest unmet need for the homeless in Lexington," Polston said.
Jessica Gies, vice president of the Downtown Lexington Corporation, heads up a group that also wants a day center opened.
"If Steve succeeds before we do, that is OK with us. We are actually looking to him to find that solution. We support what he is doing," Gies said.
An advisory group working with Polston researched successful day centers in Knoxville, Louisville, Indianapolis and Roanoke, Va.
Their research found that the top need for many homeless is storage because often they carry all their possessions with them, Polston said.
Polston wants the center to provide storage, showers, bathrooms, a place to sit, washers and dryers, and transportation.
"We will get people to appointments for services they need that might be 5 miles or 10 miles away," he said.
Last year, funds raised from Sleepless in Lexington were divided among several organizations, including the Salvation Army and Light House Mission.
The emergency shelters used during WEG were embraced by many homeless individuals, Ramsey said.
"It was comfortable. It was their home. It became a community of people," she said.
"They were so sad when we closed it. They are all anxious to find another place."