VINCENNES, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– Janet Kitchin has seen problems of homelessness firsthand at the Knox County Public Library.
“After the pandemic, and we opened up more hours at the library, it just seems like we had an influx of people who were homeless, or needing all different kinds of assistance,” Kitchin, the adult programming manager at the library, said. “Really we’ve been overwhelmed with the need.”
In December, the library was approached by Good Samaritan Hospital to make a building across the street, the Bloebaum-Fuller annex, into a social services hub. Kitchin approves of the idea, saying she believes this can be a better resource for people in need.
‘I think the big thing for us as library employees is this is an opportunity for these folks to have case management. They need someone who has the training who can put their needs together and help them move forward,” she said.
Mark Hill is the executive director for the United Way of Knox County. He said he has seen homelessness increase in the area during the past few years.
“So we’ve been looking, over the last three years, at a growing and increasing problem with homelessness in Knox County. One of the issues is we have a lot of service providers, but a lot of times the connectedness of those organizations with individuals seeking help is just not really there,” he said.
He believes the annex could serve as a central location for resources for those struggling with mental health, drug abuse and homelessness.
“[We are] seeking an opportunity where social services and the library and other helpful people through the homeless task force can kind of come together in one location,” Hill said.
Last month, Child and Family Services took over the project for Good Samaritan Hospital. The executive director at the library, Emily Bunyan, said the library is going through the process of receiving grants from the organization.
“We’re waiting on Grant applications now from Children and Family Services. We’re awaiting on seeing what the results of those are before officially moving forward,” Bunyan said.
Bunyan and Hill said they are targeting the fall as the opening date for the hub, depending on what happens with the grant applications.