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Homeless advocates call for faith-based and community groups to step up as Safer Kentucky Act takes effect

Catholic Action Center Director Ginny Ramsey
Stu Johnson
Catholic Action Center Director Ginny Ramsey

The much-publicized Safer Kentucky Act, which among things bans homeless camps, goes into effect next Monday. Advocates for Lexington area homeless announced details Wednesday of a “A Call To Action” campaign.

A major emphasis during the multi-advocate event at Legends Park pertained to homeless school children. Studies show that just under 11 hundred students in Fayette public schools experienced homelessness during the last school year. James Woodhead teaches at Harrison Elementary where he said 90% of children face housing insecurity and/or are economically disadvantaged.

“As educators we see the adverse effects of a growing number of our students…resiliently attempting to rebound from the trauma of a pandemic, only to now have to face the trauma of housing insecurity,” said Woodhead.

Catholic Action Center has been serving the homeless population for 25 years. Board Member Laura Babbage has been a “connector” working with a mother and four children that underwent an eviction. She spoke about one of the kids, a boy in middle school.

“He really didn’t want anybody to know that he was homeless because the way kids talk about you at school, if they know that you are homeless. They say that you stink. And he didn’t want anybody to know that he didn’t have home at that time,” said Babbage.

Materials at a news conference Wednesday at Legends Park included references to faith-based group initiatives. Ginny Ramsey is the director of the Catholic Action Center. Citing what she called a crisis for the unhoused, Ramsey said area church parking lots can offer refuge for the homeless.

“They’re people on church property can live in their cars if that’s all they have. So, they don’t have to run from the police or feel like they’re about to be arrested at any moment,” said Ramsey.

The Kentucky General Assembly this past legislative session passed the so-called Safer Kentucky Act. The wide-ranging anti-crime measure includes language requiring cities to ban homeless outdoor camping and sleeping in a car consistently. A meeting is planned August 22nd at 7:00 at Consolidated Baptist Church to discuss new faith-based initiatives to address homelessness concerns.

The plea goes out for a community-wide coming together to pray, vision, and develop a “Yes, In God’s Backyard” plan for Lexington. A meeting is scheduled for August 22nd at 7:00 at Consolidated Baptist Church on Russell Cave Road.

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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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