Kansas City, MO
Feature written in July, 2019
FHLB Des Moines Member: First Federal Bank of Kansas City
Every day in the United States, 37,878 veterans are experiencing homelessness. Veterans make up about 9% of all homeless adults.
Most of America’s homeless veterans are men (90.8%), and have served in World War II, the Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq (OEF/OIF) and the military’s anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America. Nearly 50% of homeless veterans served during the Vietnam war era. Two-thirds served for at least three years and one-third were stationed in a war zone.
Many veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and sexual trauma, contributing to their precarious living situations and isolation and serving as an obstacle to recovery and stabilization.
An additional 1.4 million veterans are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing.
reStart was founded in 1981 to work toward ending homelessness in Kansas City, and is the largest homeless service provider in the Kansas City metropolitan area. reStart is open to people of every need and walk of life, including every gender and sexuality, HIV/AIDS status, family definition, youth without a parent or guardian, those who have been incarcerated or hospitalized, those with mental health conditions and veterans.
This organization is the only homeless serve provider in the Kansas City metropolitan area that provides comprehensive serves to veterans and veteran families struggling with homelessness.
Veteran-specific programming with transitional housing at emergency shelter facilities, called Health Care for Homeless Veterans began in 2013. reStart uses Outreach as a core component of the program to bring supportive services to veterans instead of waiting for them to ask for help.
Up to 20 veterans can participate at one time, and they live, temporarily, at reStart’s Emergency Shelter facility. In 2018, 68 veterans were enrolled in the Health Care for Homeless Veterans program.
Participants live in a two-bedroom suite with a bathroom, three meals per day, case management, access to support groups, transportation to and from medical appointments, assistance enrolling for benefits, job search and employment assistance and rental assistance and ongoing case management when they’re transitioned to permanent housing.
Rapid rehousing is offered through Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSFV), a national program of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and operates with a “housing first” approach – a method moving homeless individuals immediately from the street to permanent housing, rather than through a multi-level progression.
The approach is based on the belief that the first need is to obtain safe, affordable, stable housing in order to address other needs. From there, reStart helps with:
- VA benefits application process, including documentation and navigation through the VA systems,
- Assistance with setting VA appointments and transportation to appoints,
- Assistance in applying for government benefits,
- Job readiness skills,
- Regularly scheduled case management meetings to help veterans achieve their goals,
- Legal service to combat barriers preventing housing, and
- Financial literacy training.
reStart’s Home Again provides permanent supportive housing and customized supportive services in a scattered site setting to 9 chronically homeless adult veterans who are ineligible for VASH vouchers or who have resistant to utilizing VA services. These individuals are referred to the program through Kansas City’s Coordinated Entry program. Most veterans wait less than three days between assessment and moving into their new home – most often from the street or an emergency shelter.
These individuals suffer from severe mental and physical health issues and require intensive, long-term case management provided by reStart.
In 2018, reStart served 237 veterans, case workers were able to help 70 veterans remain in their home and rapidly place 151 permanent housing solutions.
The following outcomes have been achieved:
- 41 veterans obtained employment,
- 9 veteran spouses/partners obtained employment,
- 34 veterans increased income or benefits,
- 43 veterans received financial literacy coaching, and
- 75.34% of SSVF clients at risk of becoming homeless were able to remain in their homes.
As a result of reStart’s programming, 62.8% of veterans successfully leave reStart and move into stable, suitable housing – higher than the national average of 41.3%. .