New homeless veterans report shows overall decrease in KS

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - New numbers from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development show homelessness crept up 1.4 percent in Kansas since last year.

There's good news, though in the number of veterans who are homeless, it's down nearly 70 percent from 2010.

V.A. housekeeping aid Bill Hunter was once a homeless veteran, now he uses elbow grease to keep the halls clean at the center.

Not so long ago, he felt he was out of options.

"I've been in the Salvation Army, staying on the street, sleeping in cars, all of that. I've been through everything, went through the whole drug scene because that’s what you end up doing, you try to do anything there is as a value. You donate blood just to have a little bit of money,” Hunter said.

While the number of veterans in Kansas who are homeless is up slightly from last year, since 2010, it's gone down 69.5 percent.

Heath care for Homeless Veterans Advocate Heather Davis said veterans are becoming aware of available services.

"We really work with them to get them emergency housing, back rent or utilities paid, whatever we can do to either salvage their current housing or help them get stably housed someplace else,” Davis said.

Housing is only part of the problem for homeless veterans.
Davis said they work with veterans to try to get them community resources.

We have supportive services for veterans and families through the Salvation Army which is a great resource," Davis said.

Hunter said he's received help for PTSD and mental health concerns, and the V.A. connected him with a range of programs, helping him make a clean start, and get back on his feet.

“The only thing you have to do is come up to the v-a and ask for some help, and you will get it. That's the only thing I can tell them, and I keep it 100, you have to come and get help if you want help,” Hunter said.

Veterans may call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 877-424-3838, it is free and confidential.