Shelter needed now

Published:

If Lucy Stephens name had been Luke, the former teacher could have found shelter scarcely a block away from the parking lot where she was living in her car after being evicted from the Southern Apartments.

But shes Lucy and a woman. Only men can find a shelter in Kentuckys capital city when they have no place else to live.

Stephens found herself in the public eye this week when she appeared in court on a trespassing charge. It turns out that the parking lot she was living on in her car is private and not public property, and she had permission to be there.

But District Judge Thomas Wingate sensibly held Stephens case (amended to loitering) over for two weeks, and he urged Stephens to find a proper place to live.

That may be easier urged than accomplished, but Stephens also has become an example of how far Frankfort has to go before the city provides the kind of services homeless women often require.

A shelter for homeless men has operated on Second Street for nearly 20 years. Efforts to provide the same shelter for homeless women who do not have children have been intense over the years, but so far have fallen short.

In fact, while that work is underway, the Franklin County Womens Shelter group is collecting funds to pay the salary of a professional caseworker who has experience in dealing with social, physical and emotional problems that homeless women experience.

They say Stephens is exactly the kind of case a professional could be able to handle successfully.

Fiscal Court is providing part of the funding for the caseworker. The City Commission is expected to do its part.

It is astonishing to think that in a capital city where just about every top elected state office has been occupied by women, only homeless men can find shelter, leaving homeless women sleeping in a car on a parking lot a block away.

The shelter for men came about as a result of a homeless man freezing to death under the Capitol Avenue Bridge. We must not wait for a woman to freeze to death in a car before we act.

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