A group of volunteers serves food to a line of Kansas City unhoused people in the park.
Volunteers with KC Heroes hand out hot dinners every Tuesday and Thursday. (Zach Bauman/The Beacon)

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Last winter, social service workers identified at least 711 people in Kansas City staying in shelters or without a means of shelter on a single day. That number is known as the point-in-time count, but the actual number of people who are unhoused is thought to be much higher, with individuals and families transitioning in and out of situations.

In response to those realities, city officials have adopted Zero KC, an action plan to end houselessness in five years. But with winter weather already here, it falls to a broad network of nonprofit and faith groups and volunteers to provide assistance and support to Kansas City’s most vulnerable populations. 

Gregory Parr, the executive director of Neighbor2Neighbor, which provides meals, clothing and referrals to substance abuse treatment programs to unhoused people in the midtown area, said he knows of more than 70 groups that help unhoused Kansas Citians. 

After overcoming substance abuse himself, Parr has spent nearly  30 years serving others who are driven to the brink of Kansas City homelessness. 

Parr has witnessed firsthand the benefits of community in the lives of vulnerable individuals. “Sobriety is not isolation, it’s connection,” he said. 

Services in Kansas City meet a broad range of needs, from substance abuse treatment and mental health assistance to beds, hot meals and help with finding housing. 

The Beacon has put together a list of some of the groups that help men, women and children who are houseless or on the verge, as well as other vulnerable populations. Additional resources can be found at the Greater Kansas City Coalition to End Homelessness

If you are unhoused or fear you could be soon 

  • Benilde Hall provides services for treating substance use, mental health and homelessness.
  • Care Beyond the Boulevard operates several free mobile and stationary medical clinics each week to assist the unhoused, uninsured or otherwise vulnerable people of Kansas City.
  • City Union Mission is an evangelical ministry that offers services to those struggling with houselessness, addiction and poverty, including one of the city’s biggest shelters for unhoused women, men and families. City Union Mission also provides food, baby supplies, utility assistance, vocational development programs and more. 
  •  Community LINC provides housing and employment services and financial coaching to the unhoused. 
  •  Free Hot Soup is a forum for coordinating plans to share meals with the unhoused community in Kansas City. 
  • Hope Faith Ministries is a daytime center that provides direct services, such as food, showers, clothing, laundry and case management to people experiencing houselessness. Hope Faith also provides office space for partners that provide medical and mental health services.
  • The Justice and Dignity Center Coalition is a group of community leaders, church leaders, social workers and volunteers who collaborate to provide basic financial life-skill education with continuing support for people facing financial and housing instability.
  • Kansas City Community Kitchen serves hot, nutritious meals, no questions asked, weekdays from  11 a.m. to 2 p.m., including holidays and during bad weather.
  • KC Heroes is a pay-it-forward group that distributes resources such  as coats and blankets and serves free dinners every Tuesday and Thursday.  
  • reStart provides emergency shelter and transitional housing for youth, women, men and families, as well as wraparound services including employment assistance, mental health services and health care. ReStart also has permanent housing units. 
  • Save Inc. provides permanent, transitional and emergency housing assistance to Kansas City’s most vulnerable, including a shelter for older teenagers and younger adults.
  • Shelter KC is a rescue mission that provides short-term emergency shelter, long-term recovery programs, life coaching, case management, career guidance and  other services to unhoused men and women. 
  • St. Mary’s Food Kitchen provides free hot lunch 365 days a year, no questions asked. 
  • St. Michael’s Veterans Center works to end houselessness among veterans by providing affordable permanent housing with wraparound support. 
  • Synergy Services provides a full continuum of care to assist and shelter youth, adults and families from violence by providing crisis hotlines, emergency shelter, transitional housing, therapeutic services and more.
  • True Light Family Resource Center serves at-risk individuals and families by providing for critical needs, teaching job and life skills and connecting to community resources.
  • Uplift provides mobile street outreach for unhoused people in Kansas City. Three nights a week, volunteers take vans loaded with food, clothing and other essential supplies to the unhoused. 
  • Veterans Community Project provides a variety of support services to area veterans, including a community of 49 tiny houses for veterans experiencing houselessness.

If you are dealing with domestic violence and sexual abuse in Kansas City

Kansas City police officers respond to approximately 5,000 domestic violence calls a year, or an average of 14 calls a day, according to KCPD. 

Safety for vulnerable individuals, including women who are missing and/or subjected to sex trafficking, emerged as a hot-button issue recently after a young woman was kidnapped from Prospect Avenue and held captive for days. 

Anyone who has fallen victim to domestic abuse and/or sexual violence can use the resources below: 

  • GYRL is a nonprofit designed to provide a safe and supportive environment for women and girls from various backgrounds and walks of life, especially victims of trafficking and domestic abuse. 
  • Hope House is a domestic violence group in Kansas City that provides shelter. The hotline is 816-461-HOPE (4673). 
  • Kansas City Anti-Violence Project provides education regarding sexual assault, domestic violence and other threats to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.
  • Newhouse is a shelter for victims fleeing domestic abuse that provides educational services, counseling, court advocacy and more. 
  • Relentless Pursuit helps victims of sex trafficking. Its drop-in center offers meals, showers, hygiene products, washing machines, temporary housing, weekly medical clinics and much more. 
  • Rose Brooks is a domestic violence emergency shelter that also offers food services, court advocacy, children’s programming and more. The 24/7 hotline can be reached at 816-861-6100.
  • Veronica’s Voice provides shelter and counseling to women who have been trafficked or involved in prostitution or who struggle with addiction. The organization has a residential recovery program that offers two years of free transitional housing.

If you are struggling with substance abuse in Kansas City

  • First Call provides clinical, educational and prevention services to individuals and families in Kansas City impacted by substance use disorders, including a reentry advocacy program to support individuals transitioning from jail or prison to the Kansas City metro area. 
  • Healing House provides recovery housing and support to men and women undergoing long-term recovery from substance use disorders.
  • Heartland Center for Behavioral Change provides behavioral health care and substance use services to those struggling with addiction, including withdrawal management, detoxification and community transitional units. 
  • Hope City is a prayer and community center that offers food services, youth services and long-term programs for those struggling with addiction.
  • Neighbor2Neighbor assists the houseless or near houseless in midtown through daily meals, drug treatment referrals, recovery housing referrals, a clothing pantry and monthly medical clinics. 
  • ReDiscover is a nonprofit community mental health center that provides comprehensive crisis services, mental health services and substance abuse services for men, women and children.
  •  The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center Kansas City provides free residential rehabilitation programs.
  • Welcome House is a men’s residential recovery facility that serves men seeking to achieve and maintain sobriety through a nine-month program. 

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MILI MANSARAY is the housing and labor reporter at The Kansas City Beacon. Previously, she was a freelance reporter and Summer 2020 intern.