Special work session held to discuss the issue of homelessness in the Bowling Green community

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 11:04 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Thursday evening, the Bowling Green City Commission held a special work session at the Sloan Convention Center to discuss the issue of homelessness in the area. Representatives from 14 organizations, that work closely with the homeless population, shared what they do now and what they think could be done in the future to help those in transition of housing.

“When we got together in January, several the commissioners wanted to talk about homelessness,” Bowling Green Mayor Todd Alcott said. “So,  this is our first opportunity to really have a breakout.”

Many community leaders came to listen for several hours including Sheriff Brett Hightower and Bowling Green Police Chief Michael Delaney as representatives from each organization discussed what could be done to help homelessness in Bowling Green. State Representative Patti Minter also attended.

A few of the organizations represented were The Salvation Army, Hotel Inc., Lifeskills and The Housing Authority of Bowling Green.

“I think if we can pull all of our resources together, we can give them what they need,” said one of the representatives from The Salvation Army.  “They are not a nuisance, they are some of the best people that I’ve ever known.”

The general public was able to attend the meeting but was not able to speak in front of the commissioners. However, more than 70 people submitted their comments and concerns beforehand, and some were shown on-screen at the beginning of the meeting.

“It’s important to learn, it’s important to listen,” Mayor Todd Alcott said.

One idea brought up is to create a new community center for these organizations to work closer together.

“Sometimes we see the same clients for the same issues and we don’t realize this,” Melanie Watts, the director of community services with Lifeskills said. “We’d also like to see a drop-in center for those people who are mentally ill.”

Others discussed measures like creating more affordable housing. “This community has been excellent, not good, excellent, to our housing authority. Is there a need? Yes there is,” the representative from the Housing Authority said.

Many also discussed that breaking negative stereotypes often associated with those without a place to call home is one of the first steps that need to be taken.

“I’m optimistic, you know, it’s not about what we don’t do, it’s about how we work together,” Mayor Alcott said.

No formal action was taken at the session, but Todd Alcott said government work could be done in the future to help combat the issue. Mayor Todd Alcott also mentioned the city is currently looking at how to spend American Relief Act Dollars, which could be used to help the cause.

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