© 2024 WUKY
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Is Houston a good template for Lexington on homelessness? Mayor Linda Gorton thinks so

Josh James
A temporary shelter built in Lexington house people experiencing homelessness during the cold months.

Lexington leaders are examining new ways to help those experiencing homelessness – and the plan could include additional shelters or programs modeled after those launched in a city in Texas.

At a recent budget retreat, Mayor Linda Gorton pointed to one city in particular as a model Lexington might emulate when it comes to homelessness: Houston. Over the past dozen years, Houston has driven down its homeless population by 64 percent, in part by building a system that coordinates public policy with around 100 different nonprofits.

"They have been kind of a national leader of cities addressing homelessness," says Adrian Bryant with CivicLex. "They have a really broad program to work on that."

At the same time, Lexington is about to launch a request for proposals asking consulting firms to draw up plans for a study on homelessness in the city – with a specific focus on shelter needs.

"So if there are needs for another homeless shelter or potentially more than just one other homeless shelter," Bryant said the consultant hired will "assess what the needs are, what a new shelter could possibly look like in terms of how it operates, also how much it would cost to operate, where in town it should be."

But results aren’t expected for at least another year.

In the meantime, depending on the fate of a sweeping anti-crime bill making its way through the General Assembly, the city may also have to decide how to handle a statewide proposal that would make street camping illegal except in officially designated areas.

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.