Homeless in the Mountains

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Thinking about the homeless, I imagine cardboard signs in sprawling urban cities. I never thought about homelessness being a problem in my hometown. A place where we take care of our own. Where we say, “Come on in and stay awhile” and “You’re always welcome here.” However, along with the opioid epidemic, homelessness has come to the mountains. With the addition of the Covid pandemic, the epidemic has only become worse.

Kentucky Homeless

For instance, this past month I’ve personally met eight people that were homeless and in crisis situations. All of them were suffering from either mental health and/or substance abuse issues. In addition, “As of January 2020, Kentucky had an estimated 4,011 experiencing homelessness on any given day, as reported by Continuums of Care to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Of that Total, 277 were family households, 399 were Veterans, 221 were unaccompanied young adults (aged 18-24), and 666 were individuals experiencing chronic homelessness” (USICH, 2021).  Small towns like mine are not prepared for the influx of the homeless. Therefore, local officials prefer to pretend it isn’t happening or give into fear and distrust and attempt to push the homeless out by tasking city workers with tearing down or burning out homeless camp sites.

Thankfully there are social workers who collaborate with organizations, non-profits and churches that are working to help the homeless by giving them temporary housing, meals, clothes and other assistance. Mountain Comprehensive Care in Eastern Kentucky offers crisis assistance to anyone in need. In a place where we pride ourselves on taking care of each other, now is the time for social workers to step up and reach out a hand.

By: Venita Webb              


USICH. (2021). United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. Retrieved from USICH: https://www.usich.gov/homelessness-statistics/ky/

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