Fayette County

Lexington says it’s the first city in Kentucky to end veteran homelessness

How to truly help panhandlers

It is natural to want to help people in need, but experts say giving cash to panhandlers may not be the best method. A better way to help is by donating to local charities designed to work with the homeless.
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It is natural to want to help people in need, but experts say giving cash to panhandlers may not be the best method. A better way to help is by donating to local charities designed to work with the homeless.

Lexington is the first city in Kentucky to end homelessness for military veterans, city officials announced Thursday.

But that doesn’t mean there are no homeless veterans in Lexington.

In 2014, the city counted 203 homeless veterans living on the streets or in shelters. In 2019, that number dropped to 78. But none of those homeless veterans were living outdoors or unsheltered in 2019.

“But veterans who do experience homelessness or are at-risk of homelessness will get the support they need to quickly obtain a permanent home,” said Mayor Linda Gorton.

The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs certified in March that the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government had created a system that would make veteran homelessness “rare, brief and non-reoccuring.”

The push to end veteran homelessness across the country started in 2014. Other cities that have obtained a similar designation for ending homelessness include Rockford, Ill., and St. Joseph, Mo.

Polly Ruddick, director of Lexington’s Office of Homeless Prevention and Intervention, said the city and its homeless service providers have implemented various programs since 2014 to tackle veteran homelessness. The effort also required additional funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The city’s service providers have worked to identify homeless veterans and rapidly place veterans who are living on the street into housing. A key part of that plan has been the expansion of vouchers for housing available to veterans.

“This accomplishment would not have been possible and cannot be sustained without collaboration of committed community partners,” Ruddick said.

There is also more good news. The number of housing units for homeless veterans will continue to increase in coming years.

In 2020, the Victory Point Apartments and Townhomes is expected to open and add 50 new affordable housing units on the grounds of the Franklin R. Sousley Veterans Affairs campus on Leestown Road. Groundbreaking for the $13 million AU Associates development was held in December.

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