Most of the men living on a campus of three aging homes off Versailles Road have mental illness or developmental disabilities.
They come from all walks of life, but typically, they have been released from psychiatric hospitals, prisons and personal care homes. Eight of the more than 70 men at Messner Home Inc. are veterans, six are wards of the state and two are former foster children who have turned 18 and aged out of the system.
"I get the ones that nobody else wants," said owner Ralph Messner, whose late mother opened a halfway house in Lexington in 1959 that evolved into the current private operation.
Messner, 77, said he runs a good home and often works more than 65 hours a week to meet the needs of the residents. But Kentucky officials have been investigating allegations of poor living conditions and have expressed a concern about the lack of government oversight at the homes for at least the second time since 1996.
Officials from Kentucky Protection and Advocacy, an independent state agency mandated by federal law to protect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities, received a complaint that led to visits beginning in August, said executive director Marsha Hockensmith.
"Bed bugs, lack of cleanliness, lack of proper bedding, lack of privacy, and problems with the physical structure" are among the issues that Protection and Advocacy found, Hockensmith said.
Messner is upset that Kentucky Protection and Advocacy has been investigating the home. He said Veterans Administration officials told him in May that the home looked the best it had looked in seven years.
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Proprietor of Care Home in Lexington Defends His Operation