KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On Monday, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness recognized the Kansas City region for “effectively ending homelessness among veterans.”
Two years ago, the mayors of Kansas City, Kansas, Kansas City, Missouri, and Independence created a regional coalition to help end homelessness among veterans.
"The work that has been done by all these agencies is phenomenal. To be able to declare a functional zero is something that maybe even a couple years ago was not possible, but here we are," said Kansas City Mayor Pro-Tem Scott Wagner.
Now, more than 60 organizations have partnered with the cities to identify resources that can help veterans in need.
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are about 40,000 homeless veterans in the country.
"We know and have known that we have a chronic homeless problem in our communities. One of the things we recently did was we took the opportunity to combine the Coordinated Council for Homelessness so there could be one single voice. We need to do a better job of tracking and caring for people and not caring what side of the state line they are on," said Kansas City, Kansas Mayor Mark Holland.
"We work hard together every day with our mayors, city councils, and civic leaders to accomplish good things. Why we do these things is for people,” said Independence Mayor Eileen Weir.
Richard Mahaney attended Monday’s news conference. He is retired from the Army and was homeless for two years.
"We are the forgotten few. Everyone walks by homeless people and say, ‘That's not my problem.’ It is our problem, it is an epidemic," said Mahaney.
Matthew Doherty is the Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
He said in a letter to the Kansas City region mayors, "We are confident that the infrastructure systems you have built will ensure that any Veteran experiencing homelessness in the region will get the support they need to quickly obtain a permanent home."