Over crowded shelters in KC have to turn families away

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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.

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  • Joe

    I wouldn’t mind feeding the kids and letting them stay in my home but I am not about to support lazy parents who have been making poor decisions for most of their lives. If you child is hungry, contact me and I will make sure they eat.

  • K

    No one knows this woman’s story, so do not judge her, it is clear that she is trying her best for her children to overcome her situation. Every family or single person who is homeless is not always by choice or fault of their own. Most are living paycheck to paycheck and struggle just to keep up with living expenses , not everyone lives without struggle. Instead of judging lets help out where we can. I am also not saying that there are some who cause their homelessness but if you don’t know then you can’t pursume

    • Joe

      You should take your own advice and don’t presume she is doing everything she can to overcome her situation. Unfortunately, people do stupid things and then cry and expect others to feel sorry for them and help them out. I guarantee that she and other families are making very poor decisions in life and thus, they find themselves homeless. Doesn’t she have any family that is willing to help her and if not, why not? If her family isn’t willing to help her, why should complete strangers/taxpyers be required to bail her out of her mess.

  • Michelle

    Take for example happy couple, two or three kids, job, home and all is good-not rich but getting by. One parent dies, income goes down, can’t pay rent or mortgage payment, lose home and there you go. What was the poor choice or the “lazy” in that? OR young believe a guys lies, think he loves you, have kids, he finds the next cute thing and now the girl/woman is left with kids to provide for and no help? Hmmm, bad choice, yes, but shouldn’t have to have the kids suffer. OR comes from an uneducated family, maybe single mom or drug addict parents and the next generation not taught good coping skills and guess what they don’t know what to do when times get rough. SO there are lots of reasons to end up in a bad situation and the goal should be to get them on their feet and have programs that teach them how to cope and where to look for jobs. If you want them to be productive members of society and not have some of these cycles continue, then we are going to have to work at teaching them to be or providing programs that show them where to look for resources (homes, jobs, affordable daycare) so they can join that “productive” society. Calling names and judging or throwing some food at them without showing them how to get their own is not going to get them there or change anything!!!!!!

    • Joe

      The first poor choice is living in a home that she cannot afford. The second poor choice is to keep having children when she doesn’t have any savings and you have bills to pay. There are many more poor choices that I could lay out once I met her. Guaranteed.

    • Joe

      You are talking about her getting pregnant and the guy leaves her for someone else. Maybe she should not be having sex until she is married or use protection. More poor choices. Stop making excuses for her and yourself.

    • Joe

      Now your last sentence suggests we should stop giving them all food stamps so they can learn to take care of themselves. Finally, you said something that almost makes sense. Instead, take the kids away from an inept parent and make sure the kids have food and a safe place to stay. As for Mom, she should be on her own and if she cannot support herself now that she is alone, she really is incompetent, useless and hungry.

  • Joe

    I bet many of those homeless women smoke cigarettes and sport tattoos. Even those who lost their homes were making poor decisions for buying a home they could not afford and having more kids than the budget allows. When people are in debt up to their neck, they are dependent upon their boss and the economy to keep that home and feed their children. More poor decisions. Just because most people go deep into debt to buy a home, doesn’t make it the smartest thing to do.

      • Joe

        I have enough facts to form an opinion. Fact: She is homeless with too many kids she cannot care for. Opinion: She is making poor decisions by having too many kids she cannot support. Get over yourself and if you feel so bad for her, invite her into your home and care for her and the kids. After two months of that, you’ll agree with me.

  • mary

    As a long time employee of a K.C. homeless shelter, believe me there are as many reasons for being homeless as there are homeless families.Very few homeless are homeless because of a paycheck gone. Until we address the employment problems, mental health issues, education disparity, drug addiction and lack of oversight of Social Security Disability monies, inadequate management of the shelters and lack of any real programming in the shelters this will continue to be a problem. Currently the Federal Homeless money is targeted at quickly rehousing families. This is not very hard, however, keeping them housed without strategical changes in the way the parent operates will result in homelessness again. Mostly what you see in shelters are the same families coming back time and time again. The Feds count numbers not outcomes therefore if you rehouse someone three times, the Feds consider that three separate families house. It is a ridiculous system and despite the news releases, homelessness will NOT go away if you donate more money, it won’t go away if you bring food. It will only go away with reeducation and accountability of the homeless persons. If this is not possible because of problems the clients have, they will remain or return to homelessness.

    Let us know that the homeless have always been with us and they always will be. Let us make those in charge be accountable for real programming and realistic help to the homeless. We have a duty to the children. They, at least, ought to have the opportunity to know that life does not have to be this way. I had a CEO of a shelter talk very proudly that when a child had to go back to a shelter (for the 7th time in 11 years) the child picked her shelter. This was not something to be proud of but rather a failure in 6 tries. With good management, stable staff and real programs this would not happen.

  • Barb Friend

    We should be drug testing all welfare recipients because we the taxapyers should not pay for someone to buy drugs or pot with welfare money. And if you cannot afford to feed your kids then don;t just keep getting pregnant. Don;t have sex or use some birth control. And abortion is not the answer.