Overland Park’s growing transitional housing shelter helps local homeless youth stand on their own

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Hillcrest Transitional Housing is expanding a program to give homeless youth a place to stay.

Hillcrest Transitional Housing recently purchased the property at 93rd and Bluejacket near Oak Park Mall and plans to expand the current four-plex.

When renovation are complete, there will be five apartment units. Four of the units will be for homeless youth in the area ranging in age from 16 to 20. The fifth unit will be for a full-time resident manager.

The youth picked to stay in the units must have educational goals, a part-time job and be willing to follow some rules.

Most homeless youth will stay at the facility for about a year until they can establish themselves enough to get out on their own.

"One in every 100 students in Johnson County schools is classified as homeless," said Chuck Arney with Hillcrest Transitional Housing. "The problem intensifies as they age because now suddenly they're not just homeless with the family, they're homeless without family. So they are literally often on their own, and they can be subject to some very hard and difficult choices."

Hillcrest is also in the process of opening a thrift shop at Quivira Square at 79th and Quivira. The shop will open next summer.

"It's very exciting to see what happens in their lives," Arney said. "One of the things that we noticed is that if we build a community, our young people stay in touch with us. They come back and tell us what they're doing. We have from one of our first graduating classes, a young lady who is now buying a house. That was four years ago. We know what can happen if they're given the opportunity."