Boone County winter shelter reports highest number served in two years

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The Boone County emergency winter shelter, a partnership between the county and Welcome House, saw an uptick in participants in 2022-2023 due to extreme cold weather around Christmas time.

Welcome House CEO Danielle Amrine presented a report to the Boone County Fiscal Court at their May 23 meeting.

According to the presentation, 167 people were provided shelter at the SureStay Hotel in Florence with an average stay of seven days, a significantly higher number than the previous two years.

The population included 160 adults—mostly within the 35-44, 45-54 and 25-34 age groups—and seven children. 73 people had a chronic health condition, 48 had a mental health disorder, 41 had alcohol and/or drug use disorders, 28 had a developmental disability, 15 had a physical disability and seven were fleeing domestic violence at the time.

Thirty-one of the participants were experiencing chronic homelessness. The street outreach team found them sleeping in their cars at truck stops, gas stations, grocery stores and fast food restaurants, in encampments along Dixie Highway and Turfway Road, in the streets of Florence and through direct referrals from community partners such as St. Elizabeth and Brighton Center.

They did not remain at the winter shelter for long. After receiving services, some of them went to stay with family members and friends. Some continued to pay for lodging at a hotel or motel. Others were transferred to a safe haven, a substance use treatment facility, or a hospital. One person went to a psychiatric facility and another went to jail.

Of the 167 participants, 91 had no income at all. Others were earning $501 to $1,500 a month; some were on social security, and a small number had a monthly earning of over $2,000.

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Most had no benefits whatsoever, with no access to food stamps or insurance. The record-breaking low temperatures in December brought to Welcome House individuals who did not typically interact with the emergency shelter, Amrine said.

The shelter is funded primarily by the county’s Mental Health, Intellectual Disability and Aging Tax Fund, along with a small portion of state and federal assistance provided for the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the end of the presentation, Boone County Fiscal Court Judge/Executive Gary Moore gave special recognition to outreach workers Amanda Booker and Troy Harper, who successfully revived a man experiencing an overdose in a field near Turfway McDonalds on Feb. 9 this year.

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