Boyle conducts annual homeless count
Volunteers Betty Jean Burton, left, and Cindy Conover review two surveys Blue Grass Community Action Partnership received Wednesday in the 2013 K-Count of homeless people. (January 31, 2013)
Coordinators of the Danville count say the rain weather conditions affected turnout, which was rather low.
Donna Linton, community developer for Blue Grass Community Action Partnership in Boyle County, said the count is pursued differently than it has been in recent years.
“Before, it would have been my job to go around finding homeless people under bridges and on the street,” Linton said. “But homelessness covers so many avenues nowadays.”
Homeless individuals may not be limited to living on the streets, Linton said. Some people may be staying on friends’ couches after an eviction or have just been released from jail.
The process of the count is dependent on homeless individuals going to a local business, such as BGCAP, Family Services or Harvesting Hope, checking in as a homeless person and answering questions on a survey.
“We want to find out how many people here are homeless persons in the commonwealth, what needs are expected, and what we have to offer,” Linton said.
But as of 3 p.m. Wednesday, only two homeless individuals had shown up for the count, a number that volunteers and workers say does not accurately portray the homeless population in Boyle County.
And both individuals were sheltered homeless people, meaning they had somewhere to stay but not a permanent residence.
Crystal McPherson, executive director at Family Services Association, said she didn’t expect people to get out in the bad weather, but locating the homeless in Danville is difficult anytime.
“Homelessness looks a lot different in rural areas than in a city,” McPherson said. “They’re invisible.”
But that didn’t stop one volunteer at BGCAP from helping give back. Her late son was once part of the homeless community.
Cindy Conover of Danville lost her son, Justin Conover Bowman, 33, of Lexington last summer. After years of homelessness and struggles with drug addiction, Bowman died after being hit by a car while crossing a street in Lexington.
Conover said her son had begun turning his life around, had rented an apartment and was making good grades at Bluegrass Community and Technical College.
“People are not aware,” Conover said, teary-eyed. “I’m not homeless, but my son ... he struggled a long time.”
Conover said no person deserves to be homeless, but like other parents, she had to make a decision to show “tough love” and could not allow her son to live with her.
Conover said she has been volunteering for many years and was inspired to help out with the K-Count.
“Everybody needs to contribute somewhere,” she said. “When you give to someone else, you get 10 times more out of it than they do.”
Another BGCAP volunteer, Betty Jean Burton of Danville, said she was at first reluctant to participate in the count when Linton asked her.
“But after I came and met a homeless woman, it bothered me,” Burton said. “I thought, maybe the words you say will change a life.”
After the count is completed, each county will send its results to Frankfort where the Kentucky Housing Corp., the state housing finance agency and the Kentucky Interagency Council on Homelessness will process results.