Homeless shelters expecting rise in homelessness after COVID-19

BARDSTOWN, Ky. (WDRB) -- Many Kentucky communities, especially rural ones, are worrying about what could happen when a moratorium on evictions is lifted Saturday, Aug. 1. 

According to a news release, the Kentucky Supreme Court announced Monday that eviction actions can proceed Saturday if they follow certain requirements, "including that landlords provide 30 days’ notice to vacate prior to filing an action for eviction and the prohibition against charging any fees, penalties or other charges that accrued during the effective dates of the CARES Act."

For shelters in rural communities, the benefits that the government has provided for COVID-19 relief have been extremely helpful for those in need. Officials with the shelters realize, however, that the aftermath could be detrimental.

"We're trying to do what we can in our capacity to go ahead and be prepared to see that increase," said Matthew Bowman, chairperson for Bethany Haven, Nelson County's only homeless shelter. "... There are a number of pending evictions in our county."

Bethany Haven Inc. operates in Bardstown, Kentucky, and normally has a waiting list year-round to even get in. However, homeless numbers have dropped in Nelson County because evictions have been paused and unemployment benefits have assisted low-income families. In just May and June, the county estimated that around 20% of renters would've failed to pay rent for those months.

"These things are working, and so long as they're there, they're going to continue working, and that give us some time to get prepared," Bowman said. "When those things are lifted ... we're going to be that safety net again."

To prepare for the expected surge in homelessness in Nelson County when the moratorium is lifted, Bethany Haven is renovating a home in Bardstown to allow for more space.

"We have to continue on; we have to work, and this needed to be done," said Freddy Riggs, who serves at Bardstown's Faith Worship Center. Riggs and several other faith leaders are helping renovate the house to give the homeless community a much-needed resource.

"It is going to take a lot of the burden off all of the agencies that help our homeless people of our community to have a permanent shelter," he said.

There will be several work days to help renovate the home, and Riggs is asking the community for help. He hopes to have the entire project done in two weeks. For information about how you can help, call him at (502) 507-8585.

Copyright 2020 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.