COVINGTON, Ky. (FOX19) - The Northern Kentucky Convention Center may be closed for business, but it’s open for dozens of homeless people who need a place to sleep amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Kim Webb is the Executive Director of the NKY Emergency Shelter. She says the shelter had to close March 13 because there wasn’t enough space to practice safe social distancing while protecting the health and safety of its guests.
That isn’t a problem inside the 40,000-sq.-ft. convention center, which Webb says has plenty of bathrooms as well as sufficient space to practice safe social distancing.
Sixty-five homeless people are housed in the convention center as of Monday.
“(It’s) to keep these individuals in a place that’s going to serve as their temporary home,” Webb explained. “It’s going to help our medical professionals and our medical community hopefully to keep these individuals out of the ER, and it’s going to help our larger community.”
Webb says the idea originally from Oregon, where she explains they’re repurposing their convention centers in the same way — and for good reason.
“If these people didn’t have shelter and a place to stay, the effects in our community would be devastating," she explained, “and on our health care system, devastating.”
Webb adds the homeless people will be able to stay at the convention center for two weeks.
On the other side of the river, Maslow’s Army is working with the same goal in mind — to provide the homeless a warm bed as COVID-19 wreaks unanticipated havoc on their state’s social services.
On Monday, just hours before Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s ‘Stay-at-Home’ order went into effect, the organization announced it paid for 16 hotel rooms to assist the homeless. It’s also reportedly providing them everyday items.
Samuel Landis is the organization’s co-founder, president and executive director.
“This is a crisis situation,” he said, “and now it’s time to respond.”
The homeless were picked up on Fountain Square and taken to a Tri-State Quality Inn & Suites aboard the Fortune Express Bus.
“Just thank goodness for Maslow’s Army, because I don’t have to worry about that,” Miranda Horsley, a woman experiencing homelessness, told FOX19 NOW. “I just have two worry about little things like food for the next week or so.”
Maslow’s Army officials say the people they’ve helped, Horsley included, have the rooms for 7 days.