‘This is getting pretty bad:’ NKY emergency shelter sees spike in visits

The focus at the shelter has shifted from providing a bed to saving lives.

NKY Emergency Shelter seeing increase in visits with weather

CAMPBELL COUNTY, Ky. (FOX19) - With strong winter storms moving through the region each of the last two weeks, the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky is seeing an increase in visitors.

The overnight shelter in Newport, dubbed the RCF Facility, has had to adjust their hours, according to ESNKY Executive Director Kim Webb.

Usually it opens at 5:30 p.m. for those needing a place to stay, but Monday they started intake an hour early, and workers are checking the gate for new entrants more regularly than before.

“This is getting hardcore,” Webb explained. “This is getting pretty bad.”

Monday’s storm brought snow, sleet and ice to Greater Cincinnati. Snowfall totals weren’t as high as expected, but the weather compelled many to the shelter all the same.

“Our focus becomes about truly being life-saving right now,” Webb said.

ESKNY’s overnight shelter has a 50-person capacity. Last weekend, Webb says they were just three people shy of that, and the shelter is averaging 80 percent occupancy in recent days.

Meanwhile, at ESNKY’s other location in Covington, the shelter has opened five rooms instead of the usual three.

“Our focus right now is just to open the doors, keep the staff healthy—and our staff has been healthy—but keep the staff working,” Webb said.

She adds the shelter has changed protocols to keep staff and visitors safe during the pandemic, including masking, COVID-19 screenings, symptom monitoring. It’s also spacing visitors out using every other bed.

“It’s a journey, not a destination,” Webb said. “Folks come into the RCF right now, and we’re grateful to have space.”

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