Homelessness Task Force Community-Wide Plan Overview
The Homelessness Task Force has established a community-wide goal of achieving functional zero homelessness which means the number of people entering homelessness is never more than our community’s ability to house them.
This will be achieved through Housing First, which places people into housing and provides wrap-around services. This has proven more effective and cost-efficient than the traditional approach, requiring a person to become “better” through things like treatment and employment before helping them move into housing. This is because vulnerable people are more responsive to support and services when their basic needs, like housing and safety, are guaranteed.
Achieving functional zero will require system improvements and additions, many already underway:
- A coordinated, single point of entry for all people entering homelessness
- An expanded low-barrier, 24-7-365 emergency shelter with enough capacity for anyone needing shelter
- One-stop resource center co-located with congregate and non-congregate emergency shelter and affordable housing
- More available, affordable housing because rising rents and less availability squeeze low-income households into homelessness
- Real-time, accurate data, accessible to all providers, including a by-name list of those experiencing homelessness
- Intentional provider coordination in cross-agency case conferencing and street outreach
- Increased staff and peer counselors for more availability
- Real-time resource guide with a single point of entry
- A plan for ongoing, sustainable funding to implement solutions
The Homelessness Task Force has all sectors of the community represented and through its 22 members and five work groups, is addressing these needs and more through a multi-year plan to achieve functional zero. Over 70 people have participated in the five work groups of Provider Coordination, Emergency Services, Housing, Community Engagement, and Funding.
Proof of Concept
When communities work together, these goals are achievable. One example is Bergen County, New Jersey, which has reached functional zero for both chronic homeless and veteran homeless populations. The director of the Bergen County program, Julia Orlando, is providing guidance and support to Wichita and other communities through the state of Kansas. Fourteen other communities have achieved functional zero for at least one identified group.
Through multiple collaborative key initiatives, many of the identified system improvements and additions identified are in process. One example is the Multi-Agency Campus and Center which will provide a physical one-stop resource center to be co-located with emergency congregate and non-congregate shelters. Funding efforts are critical for both capital needs and ongoing funding.
Homelessness Task Force Meetings
In 2024, the full Homelessness Task Force will meet on the third Wednesday of even months at 3:30pm at the Advanced Learning Library, 711 W. 2nd St.:
- February 21
- April 17
- June 20 (on Thursday due to Juneteenth holiday)
- August 21
- October 16
- December 18
HTF Subgroups will meet during the third week of odd months at the WSU Hughes Metroplex, 5015 E 29th St. N., with each subgroup meeting for 90 minutes during a single day.
- March 27
- May 22
- July 24
- September 25
- November 27
For more information about HTF subgroup meetings, please email James Roberts, WSU Public Policy & Management Center.
Homeless Prevention services include payment of delinquent rent or utilities, for persons facing imminent action. It does not provide payment of delinquent mortgages.
The City has contracted with the Center of Hope and the Salvation Army to administer the Homeless Prevention program.
Center of Hope
Find out if you're eligible make an appointment and apply for assistance.
Visit the Center of Hope website.
Visit the Salvation Army website.
The Housing First program provides rent and utility assistance, as well as case management, to place chronically homeless persons in permanent rental housing. The program uses the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) definition of chronic homelessness.
An individual or family who has:
- a disabling condition and
- been continuously homeless for at least one year or
- had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.
The program requires two things of participants: a desire for permanent housing and an agreement to meet with a case manager once a week in their housing unit. As they are assisted in obtaining cash benefits, they are also expected to contribute no more than 30% of their income, toward their housing costs.
The Housing First program is one of five recommendations from a Task Force appointed by the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County. Housing-related costs (rent and utility assistance) are funded by the City and County general funds.
Email Shelly Haupt
The Rapid Re-Housing program provides rent and utility assistance for homeless persons, to enable them to move into permanent housing. Referrals can come from one of the following agencies:
- Wichita Police Department Homeless Outreach Team (H.O.T.)
- United Methodist Open Door
- Wichita Public Schools (USD 259)
- The Salvation Army
- Catholic Charities
- Wichita Children's Home
- Wichita Family Crisis Center (formerly YWCA)
- Veterans Administration
- HumanKind Ministries
- Sedgwick County
Please note: This is not an inclusive list but a collection of agencies that currently refer individuals to Rapid Re-Housing. Referrals can come from other agencies not listed.
Coalition to End Homelessness in Wichita/Sedgwick County
Established in 1994, the Coalition to End Homelessness in Wichita/Sedgwick County (formerly known as Impact ICT – Continuum of Care), is a coalition of over 170 individuals representing local/state/federal governmental agencies, non-profits, faith-based organizations, formerly homeless persons, school districts, businesses and other community advocates working together to resolve homelessness by identifying and addressing barriers to permanent housing, coordinating resources and annually applying for grant funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The purpose of the Coalition is to provide leadership and advocacy on behalf of the local homeless population. Each year, the Coalition coordinates a point-in-time count of people experiencing homelessness in Wichita and Sedgwick County. This data is a requirement of the HUD grant but is valuable to understand root causation of homelessness in our community, in making funding decisions about what services are needed, as well as measuring the progress and impact of programs.