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City Communications Office

City of Kansas City, Mo.

http://www.kcmo.org

CONTACT: Mary Charles, city communications officer, (816) 513-1356

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Feb. 18, 2010

Homelessness Task Force to hear about successful Denver initiative

Continuing efforts to address homelessness, the City of Kansas City, Mo.’s Homelessness Task Force will hear this week from the director of a successful national model on homelessness prevention. Jamie Van Leeuwen, Ph.D., director of Denver’s Road Home, the City and County of Denver’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, will share information about the initiative on Friday, Feb. 19 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Mid-America Regional Council offices, 600 Broadway.

Denver’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness is a multi-faceted strategy to craft and fund solutions to homelessness. The plan includes the following eight core goals as a means to understand and overcome the obstacles to homelessness:

    - Permanent and Transitional Housing

    - Shelter System

    - Prevention

    - Services

    - Public Safety and Outreach

    - Education, Training and Employment

    - Community Awareness and Coordinated

    - Response

    - Zoning, Urban Design and Land Use.

Since 2006, Denver’s Road Home has developed more than 1,500 new units of housing for the homeless, prevented more than 3,000 families from being homeless and helped almost 2,000 homeless people find employment. In partnership with the United Way, the program also has raised more than $46 million for homeless prevention efforts.

“We hope to learn from Dr. Leeuwen’s experience in Denver about what has been successful in reducing homelessness there, so that we can consider incorporating some of these proven strategies into our plan to end homelessness in Kansas City,” said Councilwoman Cathy Jolly, 6th District at large. Jolly is chair of the City Council Public Safety and Neighborhoods Committee and a member of the Kansas City Homelessness Task Force.

The Kansas City, Mo., City Council established the City’s Homelessness Task Force in September 2009 in recognition that homelessness is a pervasive concern in the metropolitan area and within Kansas City.

According to Homeless Management Information system data, in 2007, 38 percent of homeless persons receiving services in the entire state of Missouri were served in Kansas City, Mo. In addition, local United Way 2-1-1 data on calls for services related to homelessness and homelessness prevention indicate a 45 percent increase in the need for services since 2007. Data also shows that the number of homeless individuals and families continues to grow as a result of the country’s current economic situation.

The Homelessness Task Force is charged with identifying the issues related to homelessness; developing a plan to address these issues, including both immediate and long-term strategies, funding options, and suggestions as to how the City can partner with governmental entities, private businesses and the community to address homelessness; and presenting the plan to the City Council for recommendation and implementation.

Members of the Homelessness Task Force are appointed by the mayor and include City Council members from all six council districts; individuals from business, government and the faith-based community who have professional expertise in various fields including medicine, the legal system, law enforcement, education, mental health, social services and housing.

Van Leeuwen, who also is an associate faculty member at the University of Denver, was appointed by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper to head up Denver’s Road Home in 2006. Van Leeuwen’s visit to Kansas City is sponsored by UMB.

For more information about this issue, contact Nancy Leazer, chief of staff for the City of Kansas City, Mo., Homelessness Task Force, (816) 924-7997 or (816) 513-3271; or Charley German, chair of the City of Kansas City, Mo., Homelessness Task Force, (816) 471-7700.

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