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PCM seeking $50,000 for new shelter

BY LAUREN P. DUNCAN lduncan@paducahsun.com

Paducah Cooperative Ministry is asking for financial support from McCracken County and Paducah to help remedy its housing crisis.

The ministry, known as PCM, operates several local programs, including an emergency shelter that houses single women and women with children. PCM received notice in May that a change in federal guidelines means it can no longer rent the units from the Paducah Housing Authority it uses as shelter for women. Thus, the shelter has to find a new location for the women it helps now and for the future.

That's why Heidi Suhrheinrich, executive director of PCM, asked the McCracken Fiscal Court on Monday night to give $50,000 toward establishing a new, permanent shelter.

"If we stop doing this ... it's not just a PCM problem, it's a community concern," she said.

According to Suhrheinrich, the Paducah Housing Authority began renting units to PCM in 1990. Because new federal guidelines stipulate the housing authority can only designed two units per every 100 units as special purpose units, which are what the PCM leases, PCM must find alternate housing. It has until Oct. 1 for all tenants to move out of housing authority units.

Suhrheinrich said PCM operates the only shelter in western Kentucky for single women, and the only shelter in the region for women with children who are teenagers. It is currently sheltering 21 people, including eight children.

She said PCM won't have a long-term solution figured out by Oct. 1, but the group is looking for an interim solution, such as renting a building. It's unlikely PCM will find a location as cheap as the $1,000 a month it paid for all seven of the housing authority units, she said. 

For the long term, PCM is asking for $50,000 from the county and plans to ask for $50,000 from the city to help begin the long-term solution, which Suhrheinrich said she hopes can go toward a small community of six to eight manufactured homes. She said the $50,000 could pay for most of one home.

Currently PCM has about a $650,000 budget, but Suhrheinrich said early financial outlooks on finding a permanent home for the women and children's shelter are $800,000 to $1 million. The $50,000 from the county would be earmarked for the long-term project.

Judge-Executive Van Newberry said the Fiscal Court's legal staff will look into whether the county can fulfill PCM's request.

"I think we're very serious about entertaining your request," he told Suhrheinrich.

Also Monday, the court heard a request for a resolution surrounding the density of developments in commercial zoning districts. Currently, housing developments in the county's commercial districts can only be as small as 4,000 square feet, which is up to 10 units per acre.

The board unanimously approved a resolution to recommend the planning commission consider revising the density to a 2,000 square feet minimum, which could allow for more units per acre, or high density housing in a commercial zone.

Newberry said the request comes after an interested developer expressed interest in constructing a housing complex on New Hope Road.

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