COVINGTON, Ky. - Justin Beale, director of program operations for Welcome House of Northern Kentucky, says you can't solve the increasing homelessness problem in Northern Kentucky without building more affordable housing.
Community leaders met Thursday night to try to come up with a plan to fill the need. But they’ve tried for over a decade without much success.
"People should know there's not enough housing. We're putting a Band-Aid on many issues," Beale said.
According to the Kentucky Housing Corporation 2016 study, the number of homeless people in Kenton County doubled from one year prior.
"Without housing, we won't be able to help people," Beale said. "It's great to be able to provide blankets, and provide food. Those aren't really solving the big issue that's happening in the community."
Go back to 2006 when the Jacob Price Apartments in Covington were supposed to be the answer. They weren’t, and they were torn down.
Then came Rivers Edge at Eastside Pointe. That proved to be an affordable housing community, but not large enough to accommodate all the people sent packing from Jacob Price.
Beale says he sees the same thing happening today.
"Same thing in Newport. We're seeing housing projects torn down. When you lose those, where do those people go? And there's no other housing being developed," Beale said.
Welcome House, a non-profit, maintains 92 affordable housing units in Covington, Beale said. But that’s not enough.
"There's a great need for affordable housing. We're seeing homelessness on the rise. And the people we're seeing experiencing homelessness is ever-changing,” Beale said. “We're seeing more families because 2-3 bedroom apartments are so expensive.”
In his eight years with Welcome House, Beale said the problem has gotten worse.
"There have been some affordable housing developed. In my experience I haven't seen it make a dent in the community. The need has become greater,” he said.