Every morning you have two choices: continue to sleep with your dreams, or wake up and chase them!
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Today I’ll be meeting with a small group of local citizens who are committed to working on finding solutions for our homeless problems here in Excelsior Springs. A year ago in July, a group began meeting to discuss the realities of what we’re facing when it comes to the issue. It was originally believed that there were around 12-15 a year that were homeless in our area. However, the past year we have come to have a better understanding of the true situation.
According to the Balance of State report in Missouri, that does a point in time collection of homeless figures from agencies working on the ground in the state, showed that our region (Region 4) is the second most highest in the state with homeless. In 2016, there were 235 households reported as being homeless in the region that is made up of 16 counties. The county that Excelsior Springs is in, Clay County, had by far the highest reporting number of homeless, with there being 146 homeless. The number one reason for homelessness was due to unemployment and being unable to pay rent.
(Source: Governor’s Committee to End Homelessness, Winter 2016)
In looking at the figures of those who were sheltered during the year, compared to those who weren’t, I can see that women are being sheltered far more than men, with 68% of them being women, 31% being men, and 1% being transgender, according to the Winter 2016 report. This may be because the largest reason for women seeking shelter is due to domestic violence, which accounts for 41% of the reasons for families seeking shelter.
Of those who are living unsheltered, men make up the majority with 69% living in cars, on the streets, in campgrounds, or abandoned buildings and houses. 45% of these men are listed as unaccompanied youth and 34% show some kind of substance abuse problem.
Knowing these facts, we get a better picture of the needs that our community has when it comes to homelessness. The Missouri Housing Development Commission each year chooses a community in the state to conduct a program called Project Homeless Connect. This year, they’ve chosen Excelsior Springs, due to the high number of homeless counts in Clay County. The local homeless coalition at that time then turned their attention toward this one-day event that is designed to give direct access to services for the homeless and work to get them into stable housing. They’ve given the Good Samaritan Center of Excelsior Springs a $10,000 grant to use in marketing and service costs for individuals. That is scheduled to be at Lewis Elementary School on Friday, October 27, 2017. For more information or to volunteer, please click here.
So while the homeless coalition’s attention has been on organizing this one-day event, our homeless are still on the street waiting. That is why today a small group of local leaders will be meeting to discuss long-term possibilities in offering solutions for our community. We plan to take a good look at the data that we have and work toward finding solutions.