Homeless can reserve shelter space by phone

The Courier-Journal — July 12, 2013

For homeless people in Louisville, shelter is now a phone call away.

The Coalition for the Homeless has established call centers accepting reservations at three emergency shelters in the city.

“Before, clients would have to go to each individual shelter to see if they had a bed. If you went to one shelter and couldn’t get in, you probably were on the street for that night because a lot of the check-in times are at the same time,” said Merritt Gill, single point of entry manager at the nonprofit coalition.

The Bed One-Stop call center  (637-2337) will allow people to reserve beds at Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul and Wayside Christian Mission emergency shelters if they qualify for an emergency shelter stay. While the coalition began offering the service at St. Vincent de Paul in May and at the Salvation Army shelter in mid-June, the service began Tuesday for men seeking shelter at Wayside.

“This way they can call and they can find out what’s available and they don’t have to worry during the day ‘where am I going to get a bed tonight?’ ” Gill said.

The beds are for single men and women, but Gill said referrals can be made for family shelters. Between the three shelters, about 150 beds are available for men and 50 are available for women.

According to the coalition, more than 8,400 people sought emergency shelter in Louisville last year. The coalition also counted 368 people who were living on the streets and not seeking emergency shelter. In 2011, Gill said 7,918 people sought emergency shelter and 697 people were counted “as being on the street, in a camp or in a tent somewhere.”

Gill said similar call-in programs are being initiated nationwide, and they are being required to receive funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Although Gill said a majority of their clients do have pay-as-you-go cell phones, clients can also visit the coalition’s south Fourth Street offices to make a reservation.

Along with the new call center, Gill said the coalition is also making identification cards for the homeless, which are intended to help expedite the check-in process at area emergency shelters.

Reporter Mark Keierleber can be reached at (502) 582-4229.