We chatted with Kim Webb, Executive Director of Emergency Shelter of NKY a earlier this month about their mission to provide shelter to the homeless during this pandemic.
What are you biggest challenges now during this pandemic?
There are several. One is that while we are considered an essential business as a shelter, our shelter is not able to provide proper social distancing and have adequate restroom & shower facilties, therefore
we had to make the difficult decision to close shelter two weeks early. While we would like to be able to open our doors for overnight sheltering, opening up the 1 shower we have, doing guest laundry, offering restrooms, those things are not feasible in our current building. We do not have PPE equipment and it would not be safe for staff. The other challenge is answering the phone every day for people that are needing shelter, for our hospitals that are looking for places to discharge folks, for the police who are also asking what to do and the hard reality is that there is no place right now in NKY. It is that people experiencing homelessness now no longer have public restrooms for bathroom and handwashing and the effect that is having on Covington.
The long term biggest challenge is recognizing that we barely had a grasp on homelessness in our community prior to corona virus and as the pandemic continues and when it is over, there will be a surge of 2 to 3 times more people needing a bed to sleep in, resources to rebuild their lives due to the economic crisis our entire community will be facing. We are ill prepared as a region to face this.
What do you need the most?
Financial assistance. ESNKY is 90% privately funded, will not be in line for federal HUD ESG dollars, FEMA is uncertain, and CBDG funds are not being diverted at this time. We won’t have a widget to sell once covid-19 is over like most companies. Our widget is human beings lives. Businesses could reach out that would like to assist putting people in hotels, feeding them, etc.
What else would you like to add?
I appreciate all of the community partners that said yes when I asked and took on another project in addition to running their own organizations. Non profits are flexible, resilient and often do a whole lot with a little. The agencies involved include Be Concerned, Breakfast Mission of Covington, Brighton Center, Fairhaven Rescue Mission, The Lords Gym in Covington, Salvation Army – Kenton County, and Welcome House.
Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky
634 Scott Street
Covington, KY 41011
Supporters of the Shelter Use:
PO Box 332
Covington, KY 41012