CITY OF KANSAS CITY, MO
Mayor Emanuel Cleaver II

Coordinated Strategy to Prevent Homelessness

Program Description.

The City of Kansas City, Missouri, in partnership with area homeless providers, is in the process of developing a systems integrated approach to homelessness and homeless prevention. Our role in the process is that of a technical adviser, liaison, funding source, and facilitator of collaborative opportunities between City officials, service providers, housing providers, business leaders, civic, faith-based, funding and general communities. The long-range outcome desired is a fundamental change in the way our community responds to homelessness. By improving our coordination, we hope to have a meaningful impact on the lives of homeless and near homeless citizens.

When and Why Created

As stated in question one, we are in the process of developing a coordinated effort to address homelessness. Key changes began in 1995 when the Neighborhood and Community Services Department (NCSD) Director requested the assistance of the Homeless Services Coalition (HSC) in making decision regarding Emergency Shelter Grant Funds. In response to that request, the coalition appointed several members to an Advisory Board. The Board established three primary roles: 1) identification of current and emerging needs of homeless population within the KC Metro area; 2) provision of recommendations for NCSD and other City officials for addressing the identified needs and other relevant issues; and 3) assistance in the development of a system to collect statistical data on homelessness.

In August of 1997, the City applied for a renewal of the Supportive Housing Program Grant. Through that process, the Housing and Urban Development. s Continuum of Care strategy was adopted. Subsequently, Advisory Board activities folded into a more comprehensive approach that focused on broad issues related to homelessness. During the application process the Homeless Services Coalition was identified as the most logical organization to initiate and implement the Continuum of Care strategies. (The coalition, at that time, was an informal network of over 50 area service providers.) The proposition was proposed to the coalition membership who eventually adopted the lead agency role. HSC formalized its role by adopting official by-laws and setting plans in motion to apply for a 501 C 3 status. Their responsibilities include:

Participating in awareness activities to inform the public and community leadership of challenges facing the homeless, i.e., safe, affordable housing and child care, livable wages, education, and transportation.

Making recommendations and nominating candidates, including homeless or formerly homeless individuals, to represent the interests of the homeless community.

  • Encouraging development of proposals and adoption of public policies to support new strategies for opening the door to opportunities for the homeless and low-income members of the community.
  • Encouraging affiliate advisory boards to include representation from the homeless population on their board and in their community activities.
  • Encouraging members to advocate for programs that address the specific needs of homeless individuals.
  • Working with public officials, homeless service providers, and other interested agencies to create standardized definitions for homeless services and work toward full implementation of a universal data collection system, to simplify intake and referral processes and provide easy access to information which allows trends, needs, opportunities, and successes to be tracked.
  • Encouraging development of more transitional housing with support services to prepare individuals for greater levels of personal and economic independence.
  • Encouraging and supporting the development or redevelopment of additional housing affordable to homeless and low-income members of the community.

The Kansas City Continuum of Care Vision Statement, stipulated in the 1997 (SHP) grant application, defines Kansas City as a caring community, committed to meeting the needs of the homeless population. Together, those who live and work in this city will create a safe, friendly, and growing community where each person can develop their full potential. The major goals and objectives include:

  • Educate community on homelessness and what it takes to be self-reliant
  • Look at contributing factors and strengthen prevention measures
  • Strengthen collaboration between homeless service providers
  • Build on what is working

To date, the our Continuum of Care accomplishments include:

  • The Homeless Services Coalition adoption of formal by-laws
  • The Homeless Services Coalition dedication of its entire calendar of monthly meetings to issues confronting the Continuum of Care
  • Development of a five year strategic plan (two day conference)
  • An all-day planning process for the Kansas City Continuum of Care facilitated by the Enterprise Foundation
  • The Mayor. s issuance of a proclamation to recognize the First Annual Homeless Awareness Week (November 2)
  • An Art Exhibit commemorating Homeless Awareness week was displayed in the rotunda of City Hall
  • Focus group sessions with homeless persons

Measurements of Effectiveness

As we are in the early stages of our planning process, it is too soon to determine our impact

Program Financing

Currently, the Homeless Services Coalition members volunteer their staff to work on various projects and committees related to the Continuum of Care. Those organizations have also shares the expense of meeting space and supplies.

The Coalition realizes that in order to address issues such as system integration, data collection, outcome measures and tracking, it must hire a full-time staff person. The Coalition. s five year strategic plan addresses the staffing issue.

Linkage to City Government

The Homeless Services Coalition is the lead organization in Kansas City, Missouri. The City of Kansas City, Missouri is an active non-voting member of the coalition.

Major Lessons

In addressing this question, the adage, "persistence pays" comes to mind. The Homeless Services Coalition. s membership includes faith-based organizations, health care providers, a housing authority, shelter providers, city staff and a host of others. We have successfully bridged our differences by participating in on-going meetings that emphasize consensus building around a common interest, the homeless and near homeless population.

Contact Person: Jacquelyn R. Powell, Social Services Division Supervisor City of Kansas City Missouri Neighborhood and Community Services 414 East 12th, 4th Floor Kansas City, Missouri 64106 Telephone: (816) 274-2631 Fax: (816) 274-2961

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