KC Shelters Report Big Increase in First-Time Homeless

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There's a first time for everything. Unfortunately, that includes being homeless.

According to a new survey taken last October, across the nation around 35 percent of homeless people are homeless for the first time. At the City Union Mission in Kansas City, that number is 43 percent, and for the last week all of the shelter's 300 beds in the men's shelter have been full.

"You're just put on the streets for the first time and you're just left out there," said Christopher Miller, 21, who says that he knows what it's like to live on the streets. He found himself homeless as a 16-year-old in 2005 after his parents lost their jobs.

Miller turned to Kansas City's ReStart Shelter for help.

"I really didn't know what to do or where to go, and so somehow I ended up here at ReStart."

Dennis Chapman, director of City Union Mission, says many of their new faces of homelessness are people who recently lost decent-paying jobs - many of whom are well-educated.

"we're seeing mainly Kansas City. It's not just the transient person that's passing through," said Chapman. "There's really no rhyme or reason sometimes to who will end up at the shelter. It can be someone that had a good job a year ago and everything was just wonderful, and, then all of a sudden, everything just fell apart."

ReStart executive director Evelyn Craig says that they are seeing more first-timers as well.

"We need to do more prevention. If people aren't going to be homeless in the first place, we all save disruption, time, money. It's a better solution," said Craig.

Miller says that he's grateful that ReStart gave him another chance at life. He'll be graduating from Donnelly College next spring.

"My goal after I graduate with my bachelor's is to go on and get a master's, to be a teacher," said Miller.

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