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'Hope Bus' helps bridge gap between people experiencing homelessness and transportation

Hope Bus
Hope Bus
Posted at 5:15 PM, Feb 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 19:32:19-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Getting on a bus usually means finally taking a load off, feeling comfort in knowing exactly where you're going.

For people experiencing homelessness out in the cold, getting on a bus can save their life. But they don't always know the destination.

"What we're doing is absolutely helping lives," Brandon Pittman, a case manager at Hope Faith Homeless Assistance Campus, said. "I wouldn't doubt that in the slightest."

Hope Faith has two buses that pick up people experiencing homelessness to get them to the next step. The service is bridging the gap between homelessness and transportation.

Sometimes the city buses are full and hard to navigate. The 'Hope Bus' helps connect the homeless agencies in the city and make it easier for people to find the services they need.

Pittman and Katherine Finn are case managers on the Hope Bus.

"We collect their demographics and ask them what services do they need such as employment, housing, food stamps or just like showers," Pittman said.

The buses take people to different agencies such as City Union Mission, ReStart, Truman Behavioral Health as well as doctors appointments or almost anywhere else.

"I'm going to go to Crown Center where I know it's warm," Carl Williams, who is experiencing homelessness, said.

Williams said the Hope Bus has helped him and many people he knows.

"We just need a nice warm place to go," Williams said. "We don't have any problems getting around."

One woman on the bus said she didn't have anywhere to go but the warming center at Bartle Hall. It was almost 2 p.m., but the warming center didn't open until 6 p.m., so her and her small dog, Scruffy, would have to wait in the cold for four hours.

Vincent Morehead is a Hope Bus driver and hears peoples' stories every day. He said he wants to offer a sense of understanding.

"You have to understand them and try to respect them and their wishes," Morehead said. "And you hope and pray they find their way to a better place. You can't force somebody to do something they don't want to do but it hurts you just to see what they're going through."

On the day 41 Action News rode the bus, Pittman and Finn delivered blankets and socks to a man sleeping on a doorstep near 14th Street and Spruce Avenue.

Homeless man.JPG
Feb. 8, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri.
KC Homeless.png
Feb. 8, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo.

"I do not want to die from cold weather," the man told them.

His feet were so swollen from the cold that he couldn't walk. He was bundled up underneath several blankets, all coated with a thin layer of snow.

Pittman and Finn encouraged him to get on the bus so they could give him medical care back at Hope Faith. They told him he could also sleep at the warming center and come back to Hope Faith the next morning.

Pittman reminded him the weather is expected to dip below zero.

The man wasn't ready to move yet, but Pittman assured him they'd come back.

Sometimes all they can do is offer a helping hand.

"Hopefully next time we stop by he can get on the bus. Just hope and pray he does," Pittman said.