(Photo provided by Welcome House.)
Goal of Welcome House shelter: Long-term housing stability
COVINGTON, Ky. – The City of Covington is giving $367,720 to Welcome House of Northern Kentucky to help it operate a temporary shelter designed to help homeless individuals not only survive the winter but also find permanent, stable housing.
The Garden Center Winter Shelter opened Nov. 30 as a 24/7 home for 26 adults. It provides both basic amenities – like health care, food, a bed and clothing – and counseling and case management designed to get people back on their feet.
Covington Mayor Joe Meyer recently signed an executive order to distribute the funds, which were funneled to the City from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The City sought proposals in November from social service agencies for the money.
Meyer also signed an order changing the City’s zoning laws temporarily to allow the shelter to operate until March 31.
“With the damage it’s done not only to people’s health but also the economy, the coronavirus has greatly exacerbated the needs of the homeless population and the agencies who serve that population, and the City of Covington is stepping forward to help address those needs,” Meyer said.
Welcome House CEO Daney Amrine said spots in the shelter were filled immediately.
“We’re lucky to have the support of the City and appreciate officials’ willingness to work with us to address a serious problem,” Amrine said. “The pandemic has made clear just how vulnerable this population is, and it’s wonderful that we’ve been able to come together to bring these people into our arms.”
Amrine said the shelter is more than a place to escape brutal winter weather.
“With services related to health care, hygiene, transportation, employment counseling, and long-term planning, we want to address and remove any barriers our clients have to move to permanent housing,” she said.
Welcome House – which manages nearly 100 units of affordable housing at various sites around Covington – will also use the grant to move an existing shelter for women and children that currently operates on Pike Street. Amrine said that shelter now has 16 beds but will double in capacity at its new location.
Applications for both shelters – for single adults and for women and children – are processed out of Welcome House’s offices at 205 W. Pike St., she said.
The new shelter authorized by the City for single adults is geared primarily toward Covington clients and is staffed and monitored around the clock. It also has a floor set aside to isolate any clients who test positive for COVID-19.
Amrine noted that the shelter’s operations allow Welcome House to support other social service agencies and programs in Covington. For example, meals are catered by Brighton Center, laundry services are provided by Point Arc, and staffing is provided by Urban Outreach. “So we feel like we’re helping to protect jobs,” she said.
Welcome House announced the opening of the shelter in late November using separate CARES Act funds awarded to the agency by the state. The City’s grant allows the shelter to “become a 24/7 operation that greatly expands the continuum of services we provide,” Amrine said.
Long term, Welcome House is building a permanent consolidated headquarters at Greenup Street and M.L. King Blvd.-12th Street with plans to finish that by June 2022. The agency was created in 1982 by a coalition of churches.