Lexington’s winter weather plan features new temporary shelter at North Lexington YMCA

Originally published by WEKU.

Jeff Herron is the city of Lexington’s homeless prevention manager. He said when winter temperatures are extreme, many people who wouldn’t ordinarily seek shelter look for a warm place to stay. The city also activates its emergency winter weather plan when temps drop below freezing or other harsh weather drops in.

“And that’s going to trigger some different things within our system. For one, we rely on our congregate shelters to relax restrictions on persons that have previously been suspended for programmatic or behavioral reasons. Oftentimes, unless it’s a very serious offense, we would be allowing them to return to shelter.”

Herron said some of those shelters can add overflow beds. In the meantime, city employees and community members hit the streets to spread the news.

“We also would have outreach teams that are going to make more aggressive efforts to reach people to make sure they’re communicating forecasted conditions, try to convince folks to come in to shelter and facilitate that transportation. And at the very least, just make sure that they’re informed and potentially have some supplies to make sure that they are safer.”

Herron said sometimes, it takes multiple conversations to convince people to seek shelter. He said this winter, a new shelter for adults operated by the Hope Center will open at the North Lexington YMCA.

“We also have kennels that we can accept individuals with pets, which can oftentimes be a barrier to shelter. Things like meals, bathrooms, showers, all of that would be available on site.”

Herron said the new shelter will have 24/7 security to ensure folks staying there and residents of nearby neighborhoods feel safe. He said when he and his colleagues help someone stay warm, or improve their lives in a long-term fashion, it’s a wonderful feeling.

“Absolutely every single person within our system that is experiencing homelessness, they matter.”

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Originally published by WEKU.

Republished with permission.