Organization helping homeless find housing expands to Westport

Posted at 6:46 PM, Dec 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-19 19:46:20-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jae Edgar Bennett’s job is on the streets and running from one office to the next.

On Tuesday, Bennett met with a homeless man named Bill to get him housing, while fielding phone calls about others who need help, too.

Bill is a 65-year-old man basically living in his car and going from couch to couch.   

Bennett’s organization, Street Medicine KC, strives to provide much more than just medicine for the body. They do street outreach, connecting folks to the help they need.

Functioning for three years without a physical address, and mostly working out of Hope Faith Ministries, the organization just secured a location. It’ll run out of the basement of Revolution United Methodist Church in Westport.

“From here to KU, all the way down to the Plaza, there are no significant social services that provide what we plan on providing here,” Bennett said.

They’ll do behavioral health, mental health and prescription medication services. They’ll also help folks get IDs and birth certificates, and find housing.

“When we’re looking at 68 percent of people on the streets right now that are homeless has a mental health issue, there has to be some type of addressing that more than the medical part,” Bennett said.

With those statistics, the Street Medicine staff’s work can’t be done without partnerships, like the one with Reconciliation Services (RS) at 31st and Troost.

Sandy DeAtley is the Emergency Services Program Manager at RS and talks to Bennett multiple times a week.

"Jae will come to me and say, 'I’ve got this guy, he needs a birth certificate and I’m going to take him to get an ID.' So it’s really the partnership that helps reach those folks out in the camps that don’t come in and seek out services," DeAtley said.

Bennett says spreading out services in the metro will help save lives.

“We recently lost two people. That’s 14, so far, this year that have died on the streets. Eight of those were murdered, and the other six just died on the streets," Bennett said.

Maybe with more support, more homeless folks won’t have that fear.

At the end of Bennett’s visit with Bill, Bennett said he could get the man off the streets before Christmas.