KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the first time since 2010, homelessness in the United States is on the rise.
An annual report released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Wednesday showed nearly 554,000 people are homeless across the country during local tallies conducted in January. According to the report, the number is up almost 1 percent from last year.
In Missouri, however, the numbers are down.
“In Kansas City, we follow the national. We kind of prioritize,” said Kelly Welch, executive director of Sheffield Place. “The first priority was getting chronic homeless vets housed. In Kansas City a couple weeks ago, we were able to declare a functional zero.”
The second priority, Welch said, is now focusing on families, which Sheffield Place has been doing for years. The organization's mission is to “empower homeless mothers and their children to heal from their trauma and help them become self-sufficient.”
Recently, Sheffield Place opened its ninth permanent home. Janee Reed and her five kids now live there.
“Two years ago from today it just seemed like I was stuck and I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she told 41 Action News. “Now, I feel independent. I feel awesome. I feel relieved.”
For years, Reed was homeless. Not sober, she moved from couch to couch. While her three older children lived with their father, her youngest daughter stayed with her. A little more than a year ago, she became pregnant again and decided she needed to make a change.
“I think making the phone call was the best thing I have ever done,” she said referring to calling Sheffield Place.
The mom of five lived at Sheffield Place for a couple of months, participated in treatment and counseling and became sober. All of her kids now live with Reed.
“Now I’m just working. The only hectic thing that’s going on in my life is getting out of bed and getting everyone out the door on time,” Reed said with a laugh.