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Six million dollar Hope Center addition to focus on transitional housing in Lexington

Stu Johnson

A ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday in Lexington marked the beginning of a transitional housing project. A major focus remains on housing homeless veterans.

An addition to the Hope Center in Lexington will feature 72 beds. 24 of those beds will be designated specifically for veterans. Hope Center Executive Director Rufus Friday said the shelter hasn’t changed structurally since it opened 30 years ago. He said the new area will set the stage for the next 30 years.

“This gives us single individual units for our veterans to be in and our case workers to work more on a one on one basis with them. And we feel like it will help their overall mental health as well. Transitional housing is something that we just don’t have,” said Friday.

The construction, which is expected to be completed next summer, will not impact the operation of the existing homeless shelter.

In her remarks, Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton mentioned former Lexington Council Member Debra Hensley as the spark for the homeless shelter 30 years ago. Hensley said she was one of many. She noted it was known then there had to be transitional and permanent housing and supportive services.

“What they’ve done here is absolutely miraculous. We knew from the very beginning we had to deal with human beings on a holistic level. You know we have to recognize every one of them are different, with different needs, different opportunities,” said Hensley.

Friday, meanwhile, says the addition will allow for repurposing and getting those sleeping on the floor currently into beds. Federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars will cover 60% of the six million dollar cost with the rest being raised through Hope Center efforts.

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Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.
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