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Reducing Homelessness

Homelessness is on the rise, in Independence and all of the Kansas City region.

Citizens may find themselves without a home for many reasons. Illness, the loss of a job, or some other trauma may force an individual or even a whole family out of the safety of a home.

Some people suffer from physical or mental health issuesOthers from substance abuse.

Some  simply choose a lifestyle of living a without permanent home.

We can't delay any longer.

It's time to roll our sleeves up and end homelessness in Independence.

 

So what do we do to begin to end homelessness in Independence?

  • FIRST:  We need to re-create a coalition of leaders who work directly with our homeless population and collaborate to address the issue.

    • BACKGROUND:  A coalition USED to exist.  Former Councilmember Jim Schultz shepherded the Hungry and Homeless Coalition for several years until he left office. I was serving as District One Councilmember at that time and took on the task of supporting the Coalition and advocating for resources to help its efforts.  I left the Council two years later, in 2016, and the Coalition dissolved shortly after. Since then, City Councils have not prioritized an effort to create a Coalition to collaborate on ways to serve our homeless population.

    • WHY A COALITION?  There is NO one magic bullet that will end (or even reduce) homelessness. Many agencies already have expertise in dealing with the reasons people become homeless. Your City Council is NOT EXPERT in this area and needs to empower and support those who ARE. "Many hands make light work" is a saying my grandparents used many times. It's a truism we NEED to employ if we want to make an impact in reducing homelessness. In simple terms, we need to call in the experts.

  • NEXT:  We need to prioritize this issue, support the Coalition with staff and resources​, and act upon the recommendations of the experts.

  • AND ALSO:  Other cities across the country are making real and lasting reductions in homelessness.  We need to learn from their successes, and their failures.  Where we can, we need to use programs and policies that others have already developed.  We don't need to try to reinvent the wheel and waste time and resources in doing so.

The unhoused need compassionate care. Often, the face of the homeless that our citizens see is that of the person begging at a street corner, pushing a shopping cart on a sidewalk, or encamped with a group in tents in woods or on abandoned property.  Our instinct may be to simply remove the person on the corner, clear out the camp, and push the the problem off to another jurisdiction. While that may solve an immediate problem, it makes NO lasting impact on reducing homelessness.  It simply puts a temporary bandaid on a symptom of the problem.

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