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The number of people experiencing homelessness in Lexington edged up in 2022, but the long-term trend tells another story

Lexington's Office of Homelessness Prevention and Intervention updated lawmakers on its overall progress Tuesday.

Launched in 2014, the office has received about $37 million in city, state, and federal funds, and increased its care partner organizations from 16 to 75.

While the office reports a 54% decrease in the number of individuals in its system since the office was created, new manager Jeff Herron did note that the city's annual count saw a slight increase in 2022.

"Given everything that our community and the entire world has been through in the last couple of years, this is not entirely surprising. It's actually, I think, a testament to the work of our partners that we did not see a greater increase in this number."
Office of Homelessness Prevention and Intervention manager Jeff Herron

That current number — which includes those living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, and those who are unsheltered — is estimated at around 715 people.

The office has made progress on its five year plan to effectively end homelessness, with the creation of a centralized public education campaign, expanding use of its public data interface, and establishing an onboarding curriculum for case managers. But many recommendations in the strategic plan remain on the to-do list.

"You can't end homelessness without housing, so we have several action steps that are targeted around expanding our support of housing stock," Herron said. "Unfortunately, this is one of the areas where we still have the most work to do."

The Office of Homelessness Prevention and Intervention is not a direct provider of support services — rather it acts as an information source and a link between local organizations and shelters for residents in difficult circumstances.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.