Mayor Jim Gray today named 31 community members to the Mayor’s Commission on Homelessness. Gray also announced that Councilmember Steve Kay, whose professional career has involved managing public engagement projects, will chair the commission. Debra Hensley, a leading businesswoman and former councilmember who was one of the leaders of the drive to build the Hope Center, will co-chair it.
“A safe and caring community where basic human needs are met is essential to building a great American city,” Gray said.
The commission will examine long-term challenges and outstanding needs of those who are homeless, and of the community at-large as it relates to homelessness. “Several issues have arisen lately that suggest we should get our best problem-solvers around the table and come up with new ideas to make sure we're doing our best for all of our citizens,” Gray said.
Gray said a smaller group might have worked fine. “But the size of the group reflects the size of the response we received from community leaders interested in being involved,” Gray said. There were 116 citizens who volunteered to be part of the commission. “There are also many viewpoints to homelessness, and a large body of social science to consider,” Gray added.
The commission's members include: advocates for people who are homeless, citizens who are homeless, neighbors, faith community members, concerned citizens, business leaders, neighborhood leaders and councilmembers.
In addition to Kay and Hensley, the group’s steering committee includes James P. “Ike” Adams, Dean, UK College of Social Work; Mark Davis, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church; and Melody Flowers, Assistant Director for Strategic Planning, UK Healthcare. The steering committee will direct the work of the commission and keep it on track.
Other commission members include Laura Babbage, clergy member and community volunteer; Michelle Beverly, Student Support Services Director, Fayette County Public Schools; Rocky Burke, General Manager, Lextran; Claudia Blaylock, Chair, Central Kentucky Housing and Homeless Initiative; Linda Carroll, business owner and downtown resident; Alberto Carrillo, Pastor, Bethel Hispanic Church; Catherine DeFlorio, Legal Aid of the Bluegrass; Bill Embry, St. James Place; Kevin Fleming, Kentucky Department of Advocacy; Jessica Gies, Aide to Councilmember Bill Farmer; Peggy Henson, 11th District councilmember; Mary Hunter, homeless representative; Janice James, Hope Center Deputy Director and Recovery Program for Women Director; Laverne Laine, Lexington Housing Authority; Sherry Maddock, East End resident; Randy Moler, Veterans Administration Medical Clinic; Douglas Pape, Division of Police; Don Ralph, former director, Eastern State Hospital; Harry Richart, community volunteer; Kate Savage, community volunteer; Mike Scanlon, community volunteer; Tanya Torp, Community Engagement Coordinator, United Way of the Bluegrass; Brian Varble, Minister of Missions and Recreation, Calvary Baptist Church; Ginny Vicini, Executive Director, New Beginnings Bluegrass, Inc.; Kyle Whalen, community volunteer; and Kathy Witt, Sheriff.
Gray said several appointments are pending. The group is expected to hold its first meeting later this summer. Gray has asked the group to report back to him by Jan. 15, 2013.