Homelessness Programs

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.

Initiatives Underway

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.