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Covington to Vote on Ordinance Related to Homeless Shelters

The Covington city commission is expected to vote on Tuesday on an updated ordinance regulating the operation of homeless shelters in the city.

The ordinance outlines the rights of people who experience homelessness, such as access to space, management of facilities operating to serve homeless persons, and social services provided by said facility.

Among other things, the ordinance, if approved, would address the following: ensure the city complies with federal and state laws, further protect the compelling interests of the city and its citizens’ and reiterate current state law, establishing clear guidelines which enforcement officers can utilize in enforcing the policy in the best interests of the city.

­Adoption of the ordinance would establish uniform standards for facilities that provide temporary housing in Covington to ensure the safety and welfare of those who patron the facility.

Covington City Manager David Johnston said that adopting or supporting the adoption of this ordinance is a positive move for Covington and the possibility for both the city and entire region.

“What we learned in this process,” Johnston said, “is that there is no stereotypical homeless person. There are people who are homeless because they recently lost their job. There are people who are homeless because of mental health and other issues. And there are those who choose to be without a stable place to live.”

Johnston went on to say that, in putting the ordinance together, his office researched what other cities were doing to combat their own homeless situation and found an effective solution in Louisville.

“Months of discussions with many different players in our community service providers, county government, concerned property owners and really came to the realization of how much city government plays,” Johnston said.

In other business, Johnston explained a proposed extension of a contract with Tri-State Valet which offers parking services to customers in Mainstrasse Village. The valet firm is designated four parking spaces at the corner of Sixth and Main streets near Lisse restaurant.

Without an extended contract, Tri-State Valet may use other parking spaces in the neighborhood to accommodate their customers.

“We would like to work with Tri-State over the next three months to see if we can come up with a better solution and are asking the commission to approve a three-month extension of the contract with Tri-State,” Johnston said.

The city is also set to move forward with the sale of the former YMCA and Gateway bookstore buildings on the 600 block of Madison Avenue to make way for an expansion of Hotel Covington and the creation of a bourbon distillery experience.

The city purchased the properties from the Kentucky Community & Technical College System with the intention of selling them quickly to the hotel and distillery developers. An announcement on those projects was made in December.

“After a lot of fanfare with the announcement,” said Covington economic development director Tom West, “we are finally ready to proceed with the sale of two formerly owned Gateway parcels as well as one city-owned parcel.”

Written by Kareem Simpson, RCN contributor