KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Homeless shelters in Kansas City are already full to overflowing, and with winter approaching, some families are left outside because there is simply no room.
There are fewer than 50 rooms in the metro suited for mothers with children, so finding a vacancy is very difficult.
Latoya Porter is a single mom with four children. Recently, she fell on hard times and was forced out of her home.
“Me and my kids were just out there staying from place to place. It was so stressful,” said Porter, who tried not to cry in front of her children as she called all the shelters in town, desperately searching for a place for her family.
“They didn’t have any room. It was my lucky day when I called here and they had a room available for me,” she said.
Everything Porter and her family have is stuffed into a couple trash bags, so a room with five separate beds is a true blessing.
Shelter directors across the metro said they are all bursting at the seams, although they can usually provide emergency housing for single men. However families with children need rooms where they can be together, and there simply are not enough available in the Kansas City area.
“To stand here and say we have no room for you is probably the hardest thing for me to do,” said Maj. Butch Frost of the Salvation Army.
Unfortunately Maj. Frost has had to turn hundreds of families away a year without knowing where they will wind up.
“It’s a scary thought when you think of children and their parents sleeping in their cars or tents or parks where ever they can in this weather as it gets colder. It’s a scary thought,” he said.
Despite some reports of a recovering economy, shelter directors said demand in Kansas City continues to grow. The long bread lines at local food pantries also indicate the need.
“Every day at one o’clock the line is continuous out the door because people are using this to subsidize in other areas that they don’t have money,” said Maj. Frost.
Porter has been making plans to get out of the shelter and back on her feet, which will leave her room open to one of the hundreds who are still waiting.
“That’s my plan, to get my own place and get a good job and get these kids in school and just take it from there,” she said.
Shelter directors said state and federal government funding has been cut. They also said even if they built more rooms, it would still not be enough to get all of Kansas City’s homeless families off the streets.