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Shawnee Co. homeless population counted in Point-in-Time survey

Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 6:50 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Organizations around Shawnee Co. spent Wednesday searching for and counting people who are homeless.

It is part of the annual “Point-in-Time” count required by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to collect data on the characteristics of the local homeless population and determine the amount of funding for relevant programs.

The programs have the ability to help some of the homeless acquire housing.

Terry has been staying at the Meadow Acres Inn for two weeks.

He was homeless for six months prior caused by the aftermath of a minor stroke.

“When I couldn’t work I used my sick leave and after that point in time and had no more, I couldn’t go to work I had no income I ended up losing my house, my car, everything,” he recalled.

Terry said he was constantly searching for a place to stay and was recently living in a homeless encampment off Topeka Boulevard.

“It’s to the point where around here there are just no places you can go every time you build a camp or try to do something you’re good for awhile,” he said.

“Then they’ll come and tell you ‘you can’t be here’ and tell you to go but then where are you supposed to go? There’s no place to go,” he said.

Kelly Kendall an Assertive Outreach Specialist with Valeo Behavioral Health said the pandemic’s presented new challenges to the homeless.

“The access to resources is slimmer so you see more people out walking around that sort of thing,” she said.

“I think we’re seeing a few here and there that are definitely covid related where they have lost their juobs because of covid their physical issues and they weren’t able to return to work.”

She said homelessness itself remains a major issue.

“Homelessness is real, it’s here I think Topeka homelessness, they hide really well most of the time but it’s real,” she said.

“There’s a lot of things that with no income that they can’t afford and to help them move forward and get off the street it’s very important because medications are not cheap services are not cheap.”

The count is a chance to help more people like Terry.

“These people here they’ve blessed me,” he said.

“I liked where I was at I was happy but I wasn’t I put on a good face to do what I had to do.”

401 homeless people were counted in Shawnee County’s population last year.

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