WICHITA, Kansas – Homelessness is an increasing problem in Wichita and across the United States.
A point-in-time count taken in January showed that homelessness is up in our area by 17 percent.
As homelessness increases, many programs and services here are trying to give a helping hand.
The Wichita Police Departments Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) is a referral service aimed at helping homeless people directly and getting them into a program that suits them.
Officials with HOT we spoke with say they field upwards of 30 calls and make contact with 15 individuals on a daily basis.
The one alarming thing they notice is that about half of the people they deal with don’t have any knowledge of the services they could utilize to their benefit.
One service is the Wichita Children’s Home.
The children’s home serves about 2,000 kids a year that come through their doors and several more through outreach programs.
Melanie Miller-Garrett, Chief Program Director with the Wichita Children’s Home, says many families might have worries about putting their children in a shelter, in fear they might lose them permanently.
Miller-Garrett says with the services they provide, that isn’t the case.
“There not going to be available to take care of their kids, and they don’t have family around that are stable and step in, they can place their children with us,” said Miller-Garrett.
Sedgwick County also has various programs to help the area homeless.
Maggie Flanders is a Homeless Plan Specialist with the county.
She works with two programs, Housing First and Shelter Plus Care, which combined can serve upwards of 200 people.
Flanders says some homeless people might have fears of coming forward because they might have a checkered past or warrants out for their arrest.
“Both programs, the programs I work with, work with people who have these sorts of histories, otherwise where are people going to go if you don’t have people who will work with them, you know landlords and agencies,” said Flanders.
There are several outlets in Wichita that people who need help can take advantage of. We’ve listed some of the options below that will provide more details.