Shawnee Co. community leaders aim to reduce youth homelessness by half

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Shawnee County community leaders are taking aim at the number of young people who don't have a home.

Currently Shawnee County has more than 550 homeless youth.

To address the problem, they held a call to action meeting on Friday, where they heard ideas that have worked in Kansas City, Kansas that could also work here.

"There's nothing like having a kid that’s trying to go to school, get an education, and is living in their car." Director of the Topeka Rescue Mission Barry Feaker said.

More than 50 people from area organizations and schools gathered for Friday’s informational meeting.

"What we are going to do is take what we already have, build on that, with some good experiences that have been proven and be able to take it to the next level." Feaker said.

Desiree Monize, with Vital Impact Consulting in KCK, detailed strategies that have worked there.

“We've had outcomes of 50 percent reduction in three years in the poorest county in the state of Kansas." Monize pointed out.

Through their program, school liaisons in each district are made aware of children who are homeless.

"You have approximately 565 here in Shawnee County, they typically look for resources to help with the emergencies they might have and this provides a one referral system for every child that becomes homeless in the district." Monize explained.

Feaker says they hope using the same tactics brings similar results in Shawnee County.

"The real impact is that it’s going to affect the families that’s going to affect the future of these kids who might not otherwise have a future."Feaker said.

Vital Impact Consulting will host another forum in January, with the goal to start training people for the effort in February.