Catholic Action Center building temporary COVID-19 shelter

Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 5:26 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Lexington homeless shelters like the Catholic Action Center have been operating at a capacity that’s less than half of what they’re used to, meaning there are a lot of people being left out in the streets.

“Everyone’s had to cut back, we normally have 137 to 140 people on our bed list every week, and in the middle of the winter we open our gathering room and we get up to 200, we can’t do that this year,” Catholic Action Center Director Ginny Ramsey said. “How many have we turned away? Hundreds, since March, hundreds.”

It’s been critical in keeping the spread of COVID-19 out of the shelter.

“You look at some of the shelters across this country and you’ll find that once it gets in, everybody gets it,” Ramsey said.

But, the upcoming flu season and winter weather are about to hit the homeless population too.

“That’s a triple whammy for folks who are unsheltered,” Ramsey said.

That’s why renovations to create the Mother Teresa COVID-19 Shelter are in the works. The new space is in the same building as the Catholic Action Center but it will operate as a totally separate shelter.

It’s a $125,000 project that will create an additional 80 beds for the male homeless population in Lexington. The renovation will add showers, a laundry room, a camera and a P.A. system, as well as a quarantine suite. That’s in case anyone tests positive for COVID-19 and needs to isolate.

“We’re hoping that we don’t have to use it, but in the middle of the winter, it’ll be necessary to have it available," Ramsey said.

Before the new residents move inside the shelter they’ll be tested for COVID-19. The plan is to have it ready and open by Oct. 15.

Whether it’s through a donation or creating more spaces like this shelter, Ramsey is calling on other organizations, churches, and the entire community to do something in honor of the new shelter’s namesake too.

“She went out and took the least, the ones that were the sickest, the ones that needed it the most, and brought them in,” Ramsey said. “So, where we’re standing is named in her honor and her work.”

The project will be funded entirely by donations. If you are able to donate, you can visit

Copyright 2020 WKYT. All rights reserved.

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