The Empowerment Academy, a local effort to house homeless high school students, continues to look for a construction site or an existing facility that can be renovated to suit its needs.

Members of the Homeless Council of the Ohio Valley asked Vicki Quisenberry, executive director of the Foundation for Daviess County Public Schools, to give a brief presentation about the Empowerment Academy's efforts at the HCOV's monthly meeting Wednesday at the Daviess County Courthouse.

"We've got a plan, and everything is set if we can find property," Quisenberry told council members.

DCPS knows of at least two high school students who started the academic year homeless, she said after the meeting.

When the Empowerment Academy formed in 2015, its officials announced plans to provide housing on the campus of Mount St. Joseph in Maple Mount. Those plans never materialized because officials didn't favor an institutional type of setting. Also, that location is too far from schools, employment and other necessities.

At one point, Academy officials entered into an agreement with Kentucky Wesleyan College to house high school students in dorms on that campus. However, KWC's enrollment grew, and the college had a waiting list for housing its students.

Brescia University was full, too.

After those failed starts, the Academy started searching for a location.

"We'd love to have donated property, if possible," Quisenberry said.

The Academy is looking for at least two acres that is centrally located, near schools, on a city bus route and close to employment and shopping.

In other HCOV business, no one offered nomination recommendations for any of the four positions on the council: chair, vice chair, treasurer or resource fair coordinator.

"We need new blood," said Jenni Warren, council co-chair and Daviess Fiscal Court liaison to the council. "We need younger and more energetic service."

Recommendations were tabled until next month's meeting, which will take place at 9 a.m. Sept. 11 on the second floor of the courthouse.

Warren also encouraged members of the council to become familiar with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grants for homeless youth. She said the Louisville area recently secured $3.45 million from HUD to help end youth and young adult homelessness.

According to Insider Louisville, the city was one of 11 communities nationwide to receive federal money in 2018 aimed at curbing youth homelessness.

"We need to get on board on how to capture this money in Owensboro," Warren said.

She used United Way's new 211 emergency hotline, which shows how much need exists locally. Warren said the hotline has received 245 calls from Daviess County residents about housing and shelter since the hotline went live locally in February.

The hotline may play a key role in collecting some data needed for grants, she said.

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

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