PADUCAH — Homelessness is an issue nationwide and here at home. Mental illness and homelessness often go hand in hand.

River City Missions

River City Missions in Paducah

A 2016 report from the Treatment Advocacy Center shows one-third of homeless people suffer from some form of severe mental illness.

In Paducah, organizations that help the homeless say some people are falling through the cracks because of a lack of resources. Shirley Barlow with River City Missions said you will not come across many housing options for those with severe mental illnesses.

"This is something that has to come and go through the government," said Barlow. 

River City Missions has criteria that must be met for these individuals. 

"They have to able to take care of themselves. They have to be able to, in other words, go to the dining room and eat among the other people," said Barlow. "They also have to be so they can take care of their body."

The facility is currently helping about six people living with severe illnesses as best as they can, but they do not have medically trained staff. 

"We have no one on staff that is medically trained," Barlow said. 

The staff at Paducah Cooperative are also in the same boat. The ministry has housed 16 people with a mental illness this year at a facility.

Executive Director Heidi Surheinrich said there are not nearby facilities to take them.

"I had a woman in here not too long ago that had severe addiction issues, and I couldn't find any place for her to go immediately," said Surheinrich. "She would be put on a six month waiting list, and that's unacceptable."

These service organizations said finding safe places for homeless people with mental illnesses is nearly impossible, and unfortunately, they end up having run-ins with the law and end up in jail.

McCracken County Jailer David Knight said people with these conditions need long-term facilities where they can get proper treatment, and the jail is not one of them.  

"A lot of times it's very hard to work back there, because they are banging, and kicking, and screaming," said Knight. "You have to be careful which door you walk by, because they'll throw stuff on you. Not pleasant stuff. It's pretty sad."

Knight said some have been admitted to nearby hospitals, but ended up back in jail.

"No, we're not a treatment center. We can't provide the level of treatment that they need. We are an incarceration center," Knight said. 

River City Missions and the McCracken County Sherrif's Office said the government needs to step forward and assist with the matter quickly.

Paducah Cooperaive Ministry said the community should come together to figure out the best approach to combating the issue.