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Topeka groups expect rise in homelessness with annual Point-In-Time count

Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 7:02 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Organizations across Topeka took part in the annual Point-In-Time count Wednesday.

The annual survey is required by the Department of Housing and Urban Development so communities can get funding to provide services.

Jeremy has spent the last six months living on the streets.

He said he was living at a home on Davies Street in Topeka until August 2021 when a fire forced him to go without a house.

“It was in the middle of the night the fire,” he said.

“I wasn’t home.”

Now, he is living at a campsite near the Topeka Rescue Mission.

He described his life change as “dramatic”.

“You gotta wake up and start a fire instead of just waking up and turn on the television watching TV,” he said.

“If it’s too cold you sit in a tent, lay there and start a fire.”

Kelly Kendall, an Assertive Outreach Specialist with Valeo Behavioral Health, said she is not surprised by Jeremy’s situation.

“I’ve seen the homeless population increasing,” she said.

“You see more people walking the streets of Topeka more people with tents and things like that sleeping on the side of the road it’s definitely increased.”

Kendall said the challenges facing Topeka’s homeless have grown with the pandemic.

“We do hear a lot of because the [Topeka Rescue] Mission’s at max capacity, they’re out here a little more,” she said.

“I don’t know that I hear a lot of COVID [related] stories but compared to last year, COVID’s ramped up in the homeless camps.”

She hopes people pause before making a judgment.

“I think the misconception is ‘well they can get a job’ well, it’s hard when you don’t have an address, they do need help, food, the warmth they are still human.”

Jeremy said he does not want sympathy.

“We can basically survive out here,” he said.

Last year’s count found 298 people experiencing homelessness in the city.

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