St. Benedict’s, Pitino Shelter providing halfway houses to address rising homelessness

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Harry Pedigo, who is manager of both St. Benedict’s and the Daniel Pitino Shelter, said homelessness is on the rise in Owensboro – and the two local organizations aim to help alleviate the numbers.

Speaking at a Rotary Club meeting on Wednesday, Pedigo explained his background as a formerly homeless person before detailing how St. Benedict’s and the Pitino Shelter are trying to help provide space for people to break the chronic homelessness.

He said the shelters serve about 550 people a year. In addition to offering single-night beds, he said both shelters provide transitional housing to help people reacclimate to life.

Pedigo said shelters aim to de-stigmatize and overcome chronic homelessness by providing clients with a schedule and a set of responsibilities. Clients can build a rental history, pay rent, learn how to fit into a routine, and do other things to reduce stress when they get out of their situation.

“Getting them there is very, very difficult. They’re not all jumping for joy… but once you can get over that hurdle and they buy into it, it works,” Pedigo said.

Pedigo said when he goes on vacation he always tries to stop at a local shelter – every time. He introduces himself to the manager and tries to learn from their organization and see what similar practices can be implemented in Owensboro.

One thing he noted is the disparity in revenue generation.

St. Benedict’s is nearly 85% funded by community participation and private and public donations. Daniel Pitino Shelter, on the other hand, is almost 85% financed by government funds.

Pedigo said a nonprofit can use business strategies to generate revenue for the organization. Halfway houses allow them to generate income, but it is not enough according to Pedigo.

“[You look at] Louisville, they got it. They have hotels, they have all these social enterprises that generate income to operate these shelters there. You don’t have that here,” Pedigo said.

Still, he said shelters are working to continue partnerships in the community and grow their entrepreneurial spirit to be good enough for their customers.

Pedigo added that if people are looking to give, be intentional with what they want to see the money go.

“Make sure they help local organizations,” he said. “Don’t just give money to the homeless and think you’re helping the homeless because you’re not going to help them that way,”

At St. Benedict’s they also have bed sponsorship where people can sponsor a person for an entire year. Sponsorship is $500 per year for one person.

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