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No homeless, but 18 families 'precariously housed'

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Count could trigger housing assistance for displaced families

By BEN CARLSON

No truly homeless families were uncovered during a count last Thursday conducted by Bluegrass Community Action, but organizers say that doesn’t mean problems don’t exist.

Becky Stratton, a community developer who works for the agency in Lawrenceburg, said the count revealed that Anderson County has 18 “homeless” families that are “precariously housed.”

Asked what that term means, Stratton said it includes multiple families living on single-family homes.

“For instance, if you had a brother and he lost his house and his family moved in with your family, that one family could be counted as a homeless family,” she said. “If not for your house, they would be on the street.”

The count was conducted by Bluegrass Community Action to gauge the level housing assistance needed in Kentucky’s 120 counties.

Stratton said last year’s count revealed no homeless families here, so the definition was expanded to include those precariously housed. She said instead of canvassing neighborhoods to find such people, the agency sent letters home with school children and worked with social service agencies and police to locate them.

“We have been out in the community, some,” she said. “But as far as looking under bridges for homeless people, we did that last year and didn’t find anybody.

“We could only count people last year living in a place not fit for human habitation. As you know, we don’t have people living on the street in Anderson County because someone takes them in.”

Stratton said she was pleased that the 18 families had been identified, and said the result could trigger some funding from the Kentucky Housing Authority to assist families without their own homes.

She said unlike neighboring counties, Anderson does not have its own housing authority.

“Our poverty level has not been counted low enough to justify one,” she said.

Stratton said she’s convinced the problem goes well beyond 18 families.

“I’m surprised we didn’t have more people to count,” she said, adding that it was too early to tell if that total would be high enough for housing funding.

She said Anderson will participate again next year, and that she hopes to do a better job getting the word out to the public.

“We need to let people know about this,” she said. “I wish we could have had more this year, because I know there are more out there.”

E-mail Ben Carlson at bcarlson@theandersonnews.com.