New push to help vulnerable homeless needs volunteers

Kansas City has joined a national push to identify the most vulnerable homeless people and try to find them permanent homes. The 100,000 Homes Campaign is looking for volunteers this month to survey people who are homeless in order to get them into housing.

Kansas City is making a new effort to identify the most chronic and vulnerable homeless people living on its streets, and to get them into permanent housing.

“Homelessness in America is a public health emergency. The mortality rate for street homelessness is on par with some forms of cancer, cutting a person’s lifespan by an average of 25 years,” according to the 100,000 Homes Campaign website.

The 100 Homes Campaign is a national movement of communities working together to find permanent homes for 100,000 vulnerable and chronically homeless individuals and families nationwide by July 2014.

Almost 200 communities are now participating in the national campaign. In Kansas City, homeless services provider reStart got funding from the Missouri Housing Development Commission to become part of the campaign.

According to Ehren Dohler, 100,000 Homes Campaign Manager at reStart, “The idea is to prioritize resources. We know the most vulnerable people on the streets have a very high death rate.” He says the most vulnerable are high users of emergency room services and Medicaid. “If we can get them into housing, that drastically reduces the use of safety net resources.”

Homeless services agencies regularly do a registry of homeless people. This year, the registry week is set for January 30 to February 1. But this year, census takers will be asking additional questions in order to assess the vulnerability of the people living on the street.

Workers use teams of volunteers to help conduct the registry. Dohler says they are trying to recruit 100 volunteers this month instead of the usual 75.

“We know anecdotally but not quantitatively who in the community has the highest needs. Now we’ll know and can better target resources,” Dohler says.

To volunteer to help with the registry, sign up online


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