Monday, November 24, 2014

Tiny paper shines big light on local homelessness

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Homelessness may be seen as an urban problem, but rural America has lots of homeless people, too, and they often have a tougher time of it than their city counterparts, due to lack of services and facilities. But they also have a lower profile than in urban areas because many live "out of sight, living "in the woods, campgrounds, barns, vehicles or abandoned or substandard housing not truly meant for habitation," Sid Salter wrote last year for The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss.

Another reason rural homeless may not be apparent is that rural news media don't pay attention when they should. That's not the case in Lee County, Kentucky, where The Beattyville Enterprise did a front-page package about the lack of a community shelter, the apparent result of governmental bungling, and the life of a homeless man in the county of fewer than 8,000 people.

The weekly paper, which has a competitor and a circulation of fewer than 1,000, noted that "the rate of child homelessness in Kentucky is the worst in the country," and quoted the city Housing Director Wilma Kelley as saying she "has helped approximately 150 people with a homeless issue" in Lee County or adjoining, even smaller Owsley County in the last two years: "Not all of them are homeless, she says. Some are almost there. They need help with rent or utilities. That is homeless prevention, Kelley says." (Read more)

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