Homeless family’s struggle intensifies as school resumes

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Many kids around the metro headed back to school Wednesday, but it's tough to go to school if you don't have transportation or even a place to call home. It's a reality for hundreds of families in the metro and some of the shelters in our area are calling the problem a real crisis.

The City Union Mission Family Shelter said it got 590 calls for shelter last month alone, it's the highest number of calls they've had in one month in almost two years. Of all those calls, they were not able to find shelter for more than half the people who called. That includes Tami Wilson's family.

For most of the summer, Tami Wilson has been at JC Nichols Fountain near the Plaza with her sign asking for help.

"I come down here to get enough money for us to have somewhere to stay and my kids get something to eat," she said, "I think it's better for me to do that than sell my body on the streets doing this and that. I have a daughter to be an example for and that's not the way to do it."

Things have been difficult for the family for about four years when their home burned down and then her 14-year-old daughter got sick. She's been through seven surgeries since she was diagnosed with a rare cancer.

"She keeps having recurring tumors, they keep coming back in different spots on her body," Wilson said.

Her son also has had three tumors removed, so that's lots of trips to the hospital taking a financial toll.

"Trying to get there, making sure we are there," she said, choking up and turning away.

Rev. Tony Caldwell just met Wilson Tuesday but after hearing her story he wanted to help.

"We called every shelter in Kansas City, every program we know about, and everybody is full," he said.

He's spent all day working with church leaders to try and get her a place to stay so her kids can go to school.

"We can keep walking by and turn a blind eye, but one day it might be you," he said.

Wilson is glad someone stopped to talk to her, and wishes something could be done to help more families like her.

"Because I know there's someone out here in a situation that's worse than mine," she said.

Wilson's kids didn't go to school today since she doesn't have a physical address. The KCMO School District says it will provide transportation, clothes and supplies to kids in its homeless program but in order to get in the program, they do need to have some kind of address.

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