Owensboro Fights Homeless Epidemic

Published 05/08 2014 10:31PM

Updated 05/08 2014 10:34PM

Homeless shelters in Owensboro, Kentucky say they're overwhelmingly full and tired of turning people away. Tonight they take a stand, seeking the community's help. They are hoping for a solution to the area's growing problem.

The Homeless Council of Ohio Valley hosts a public meeting Thursday night. The panel is made up of homeless organizations and shelters. Members say the community needs more options, especially for women and children. The Pitino Shelter says it turns away almost ninety people a month.

"Currently sixty percent of our waiting list is families. That could be a mother and her children, a father and his children, that are saying they are living with relatives, they are living in hotels, or that they are living from place to place," says panelist.

Everyone has a song you just have to listen. Allen Aynes says he's know how to play for years, but the melody of his life has not always been as sweet. "I grew up in a split up home. Drugs and alcohol were relevant. I got hooked on drugs and alcohol. I split from my family. I was in detention centers," says Aynes.

The sound of music fills the air along with the rest of his story. Aynes says years of moving around and a failed marriage landed him here, at St. Benedict's men's shelter in Owensboro. "Sometimes it's a little rough because I work and I do this. I want to go out and I want to spend time doing my own thing, but that's what got me here in the first place."

Aynes hopes to someday play these instruments at a place of his own. In the meantime he's helping the community of Owensboro find a solution to the city's growing homeless problem. "Anything that you can do, or you can think to do that will help a homeless man out will be appreciated by myself and others."

Aynes attends the meeting. He says he would like to see transitional housing options for others like him. He would also like to see a day time facility for when it gets hot this summer

"It's never fun to say, we cant help you because we are out of room." Director of St. Benedict's, Joe Welsh, says they have been at capacity for the last two years.

"Pretty much every night we have had to turn someone away for the last two years, or we have them on a waiting list," says Welsh.

He believes it's a nation wide epidemic, not just in Owensboro. Welsh knows there's more to these men and women than meets the eye. "The biggest misunderstanding is what a homeless person looks like. They look just like me or you. You could pass them on the street and you would never know."

Community members step up at the meeting. They decide to form a committee to help find a way to bring a new facially to Owensboro. In the end Aynes says it takes more than a meeting, it takes heart. "Stop, be a friend to them, try to encourage them, and let them know that there is love in the world."

The committee will meet May 14th to discuss their next step.

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