As the winter season begins to trickle into the NKY area, Boone County’s Welcome House makes plans to shelter those in need of warmth.
The success of the program and its call to action was discussed at the Boone County Fiscal Court meeting on Tuesday and was approved for its third year. Welcome House CEO Danielle Amrine said it’s up to Boone County officials to decide when a weather emergency is severe enough to declare an “activation.”
From there, Welcome House decides how many days to activate inside hotels for individuals to stay warm and safe throughout the emergency winter season, Amrine said.
They scope the streets and identify people that may need shelter, talk to them and transport them to selected hotels. They also provide meals and social services during the individual’s stay.
The Boone County emergency winter shelter season typically lasts from November through the end of March.
Last year, Welcome House was located at two different hotels: The Lookout Hotel in Fort Wright and the Sure Stay in Florence. Sure Stay is partnering with Welcome House again this year.
Welcome House had a total of 74 nights of shelter for 105 participants last year. Seventy-seven of those people were unduplicated, meaning that’s how many new people were being served throughout the entire shelter season, according to Amrine’s report.
The average age of the individual being sheltered was 45.
Most people Welcome House encountered last year were sleeping in their cars at Kroger, Flying J, UDF and McDonald’s. There was also an encampment on Burlington Pike behind Big Lots, she said.
Amrine added that as they’re finding new people and the word is spreading, they’re making connections with those that need help the most and earning their trust, leading to the assistance of getting individuals back on their feet.
In light of the true meaning behind Welcome House’s success stories, Amrine shared a few of them at the meeting.
“We found a mother and a daughter,” Amrine said. “It was a 1-year-old and they were living in their car in Florence. Our street outreach workers approached them and built a relationship. The mother was very active in substance abuse and lost her apartment. She was on the verge of having her child taken away if they actually knew she was living in her car. We were able to get her into the shelter, and work with her to get into detox.”
That woman remains sober today, Amrine said, and has custody of her child.
Another family they assisted had four kids ages 13, 9, 4 and 2. They had been evicted from their house for mold-related issues.
“We were able to shelter them at the Sure Stay for a few weeks and connect them with our tenant-based rental assistance program where we provide short to medium-term rent assistance to help people get back on their feet,” Amrine said.
Welcome House helped find an apartment in Boone County to keep the kids in the school system. With a few months of rent assistance From Welcome House, it wasn’t long until both the mother and father were employed full-time, paying their rent and completely self-sufficient.
Welcome House isn’t always just getting people out of the elements — it provides them a chance to go down a completely new path and start a new life.
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