The Sedgwick County Commission renewed a $940,000 federal grant on Wednesday morning for a housing program that helps homeless people.
The Shelter Plus Care housing program targets three specific homeless populations: those with mental illness, those who have substance abuse issues and those with HIV/AIDS.
Tim Kaufman with the Department of Public Services says the program provides housing vouchers with a care component.
"The goal of this program is to provide the participants with safe and adequate housing while working on skills to increase their income and self-sufficiency," he says. "The long-term goal is for participants to successfully address any barriers that have contributed to their homelessness."
Kaufman says last year, about 38 percent of participants achieved those goals and graduated into other housing.
Three community partner organizations--Comcare, Miracles, Inc. and KU School of Medicine-Wichita--provide referrals, treatment and case management.
Kaufman says the United Way of the Plains did a “point in time” snapshot of homeless in January and found that there were 571 people identified as homeless, up 10 from last year. He says 39 of the 571 met the definition of chronically homeless, a decrease from 94 last year.
The commissioners voted unanimously to renew the grant from the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency.
Commissioner Tim Norton says there’s a critical need in the community for the Shelter Plus Care housing program.
"It is valued because it is a collaborative effort between a lot of folks who are trying to solve this issue of homelessness, but not to duplicate any services, (and) to work together to solve it," Norton says.
Kaufman says with treatment, many of the homeless reconnect with family.
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