Kansas City's homeless get needed boost on frigid nights

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Sub-freezing temperatures across Kansas City have forced most of the metro's homeless people to area shelters, but advocates say about 400 will refuse to seek shelter.

Restart Executive Director Evie Craig says chronic homeless people, or people who have been homeless for 10 or more years, choose to say outside because they don't want to follow agencies' rules like adhere to clean and sober policies.

Craig says for some, being homeless is all they know.

"Over the past year, almost a generation, they've become use to the fact that that's what they deserve, that that's all they're entitled to," Craig said. "Working with them to say 'come in to our program,' they may by now be afraid."

The volunteers at Operation Uplift are well aware of the homeless community that remains outside despite the temperatures. It's an organization which focuses on taking help to those who refuse to come and get it themselves.

"We're they're lifeline," volunteer Greg Lebold said. "They depend on us."

Lebold and 15 volunteers will take a variety of items like empty bottles for hot chocolate, candles for warmth and light, toothpaste and shampoo, hand-warmers, over-the-counter medications, gloves, hats, scarves, jackets and blankets to various homeless camps across the metro. 

Craig says the Uplift vans provides some relief, but housing is the more permanent solution.

"If this is a very cold winter, we need to get moving as quickly as we can to let people know  the answer is housing," Craig said. "Let us get you into housing. Everyone deserves that."

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