Let’s talk about ending homelessness in Kansas City. It’s a problem that everyone can agree deserves our attention, but opinions of how to address it vary widely.
We have good news: Homelessness in Kansas City is a problem that can be solved.
No, that’s not a pie-in-the-sky pipe dream. It’s not a vision dreamt up by someone with rose-colored glasses glued to their face. It’s a reality and we have a plan for making it happen.
First, Let us Re-introduce Ourselves.
We are the Greater Kansas City Coalition to End Homelessness. We operate in Jackson and Wyandotte Counties as the Lead Agency under the Housing and Urban Development Continuum of Care.
That means, the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has deemed us the “connecting” agency for a wide network of agencies, nonprofits, caseworks, and other groups who are face-to-face with people experiencing homelessness on a daily basis. Our job is to address the root causes of homelessness and increase stable housing.
We recently launched a new website that shows you exactly what we’re up to.
Discussing the Numbers
There are approximately 1,500 – 2,000 persons experiencing homelessness in Kansas City on a given day. Of those, about 25-30% of them sleep unsheltered at night.
While those numbers may seem overwhelming, our professional experience tells us they are extremely manageable.
The simple facts are, we’re not a sprawling city, we have resources available, and our numbers are small enough that we can get in front of individuals and work with them toward a better future.
Headed toward a “Zero” Community
In fact, we are proud to be on a list of 84 communities across the nation participating in the Built for Zero movement. That is, we’re actively moving toward eliminating homelessness in our city, completely.
We know it works because 12 cities have already ended veteran homelessness, 5 have ended chronic homelessness, and three have ended both.
How do we get there?
The reasons someone might end up without stable housing are too numerous to count. There are stigmas that say laziness or addiction or poor life choices lead people to the streets. That frame of thinking needs to stop here.
We are all just one tragedy away from ending up on the street.
Educating the community about houselessness is crucial if we’re going to reach our Zero Community goal.
Step 1 is to understand the problem. Learn about the circumstances that drive men, women, and children to the street. Learn about the root causes of addiction, abuse, inequities sustained by government policies, the difficulties of obtaining housing in the first place, and access to basic human needs and education. This problem is far from simple.
Step 2 is to work together. Often, individuals and small teams set off with good intentions to feed the hungry and give blankets to those who are cold. Those things are not inherently bad, but sometimes they work against more productive projects that are already in place. Find an organization that is already working toward this goal so your volunteer efforts or monetary donations can make a larger impact.
Step 3 is to advocate for change. If you’re ready to dive in with us, you’re in for a ride. We will open your eyes to all kinds of city, county, and national issues that need your attention. It’s not easy work, and it might drain you, but we need more people to care. Follow our blog and social media channels, along with local news sources and politicians to stay up to date with current events across Kansas City.
One of the best ways to stay connected to GKCCEH and the organizations we support, is to join our mailing list. We’ll send a few emails a month with information to keep you in the loop.
If you’re an organization or case worker seeking resources, please contact us here.