FRANKFORT, Ky.— First Lady Jane Beshear, joined by homeless advocates and other state officials, today announced November 15-21, 2009 as Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week in Kentucky.
“We encourage all Kentuckians to donate food or volunteer their time to a shelter or food bank,” said First Lady Jane Beshear. “With the struggling economy and the winter season just around the corner, there are many families who need help.”
According to the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training, unemployment rates rose in all 120 Kentucky counties between September 2008 and September 2009. Kentucky’s unemployment rate in September was 10.9 percent, almost a full point higher than the national unemployment rate.
“There is a stigma that the homeless do not want to work or that they choose to live on the streets or in a shelter,” said Gerry Roll, Kentucky Interagency Council on Homelessness Vice Chair. “What people do not understand is many homeless individuals do work but they do not make enough to cover their living expenses or they want to work but there simply isn’t any work available.”
Every year, Kentucky Housing Corporation (KHC) coordinates the Point-In-Time Count of homeless individuals across the Commonwealth (the 2010 count will take place on Thursday, January 28, 2010). Kentucky’s 2009 Point-In-Time Homeless Count found over half of the homeless individuals who were identified said they did not have housing because they could not afford it. The count also found that almost 6,800 individuals, outside of Jefferson and Fayette Counties, were precariously housed, meaning they were doubled- or tripled-up with family or friends, living in substandard housing conditions, or expecting eviction within seven days. This number, which was a 29 percent increase from the previous year, is concerning because homeless individuals are usually precariously housed before they become homeless.
Kentucky Housing Corporation Chief Executive Officer Richard L. McQuady explained, “Kentucky is unique in that, because much of the state is rural, homeless persons are not as visible as in urban areas where many service providers are located. Because the rural homeless aren’t as noticeable, people think homelessness is not a problem in their communities.”
After the proclamation signing, Mrs. Beshear volunteered at Access Soup Kitchen of Frankfort. The majority of the produce raised in the Governor’s Garden was donated to Access Soup Kitchen.