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Overflow shelter gives homeless a warm place to stay amid winter weather

COVID makes helping those in need more difficult
The homeless struggle to find a warm place to stay
Posted at 8:13 PM, Jan 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-06 20:13:00-05

COVINGTON, Ky. — COVID-19 and freezing temperatures are creating a dangerous situation for those experiencing homelessness in Northern Kentucky. The Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky opened an overflow shelter Thursday at a local church to help get men and women off the street as cold weather blasts through the region.

Daniel Corley, like many struggling to find shelter, was looking for a place to warm up.

“I do my best to try and stay busy and go to the different soup kitchens,” Corley said.

The staff at ESNKY said the pandemic and its restrictions have made it difficult to offer a warm place all hours of the day.

“We used to have 70 or 75 people in here,” Executive Director Kim Webb said. “They could come in during the day and hang out and stay in and we just can't do that anymore because of COVID.”

The shelter is now only open overnight for up to 24 people, which means many people are being turned away at the door each night as temperatures take a dive.

“This stretch of weather is even more frightening for us,” Webb said. “You can die in 50-degree weather with rain but this is really extreme.”

ESNKY announced Wednesday it would partner with Mother of God Church to open an overflow shelter.

“I can't imagine why anybody wouldn’t help if they could,” Father Mike Comer said.

ESNKY said it hoped to open a new 10,000 square foot facility before the cold temperatures became too dangerous, but supply chain issues prevented the opening. The new facility is missing furniture and some doors that are needed to operate. The new plan is to open near the end of January.

“What's a few more weeks at this point? That's what I keep telling the staff,” Webb said. “The colder it gets the harder it gets to tell that to the staff.”

The shelter and overflow will be open at 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday night. If temperatures continue to stay below freezing, ESNKY will work with Mother of God Catholic Church to see about any future overflow schedules.

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