Kentucky’s rural homeless shelters are finding it difficult to coordinate their services as new federal regulations take effect.
The HEARTH Act was passed in 2009, and its regulations for how homeless shelters and transitional housing programs work together are slowly being implemented.
The act requires the programs and facilities to work together to provide “a continuum of care.” But Davey King with the Kentucky Housing Corporation says because services are less concentrated in rural areas, service providers find it difficult to follow the regulations.
“I mean, we have some counties that have only, you know, one shelter, so if somebody comes to their door and they need assistance and their shelter is full, then, you know, to what extent does it make sense to refer them to a shelter that may be four counties away?” King said.
King said the changes have been smoother in urban areas like Louisville and Lexington.
“That’s much easier to implement because all of their providers are contained within that one county area, and it’s easier for them to make referrals from a shelter to a transitional housing program or to another shelter,” King said. “When one shelter is full and they can’t serve somebody, they can easily refer somebody to another shelter.”
King also said that the expiration of federal stimulus funds has made it harder to implement the new regulations.