SEMO-based project helps the homeless - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

SEMO-based project helps the homeless

KENNETT, MO (KAIT) - The Missouri Governor's Committee to End Homelessness chose Kennett as the 2014 Project Homeless Connect event host. 

Project Homeless Connect is a one-stop shop where individuals and families have access to free services and assistance. About 61 services were offered to attendants free of charge. Services include: birth certificate, IDs, access to social security cards, medical service, dental screenings, hair cuts, mobile food pantry, children's services and much more. 

"A lot of people are in need and you just don't know it," said Brian Vollenweider, public information administrator for Missouri Housing Development Commission.

The number of homeless in Missouri increased 67 percent from 2007 to 2012, according to a report released last year. Project Homeless Connect is made up of multiple agencies and serves as a single access point numerous services. 

"The number of services we have here today, you can't find that anywhere else," he said. 

That is why over 400 people showed up. Vollenweider said this event began in 2006 as a way to provide immediate access to services and housing all under the same roof. But the definition of "homeless" has changed over the years.

"Homelessness is not always what people may think, obviously in the bigger cities you see people living on the street but homelessness can mean someone just lost their job and is living on a family member's couch," he said. 

Kennett is be the sixth host city since 2008. Events have been planned in Columbia, Branson, Sedalia, Cape Girardeau, and Kirksville. Roy Cooper has been dealing with homelessness for three years. He is currently in public housing.

"Parents passed away, house in prorate and been on disability, it's tough, it's tough times now," he said. Copper said he looks forward to events like these and so do many others. 

"I got in touch with some people for housing and I got medical assistance, I even got a little makeover," Alayiah Simmons said. She was able to check several things off her list. 

"It's so many people who don't get blessed with as much stuff as others do," she said. "I've slept in my car before and you know some people look down on me."

Project Homeless Connect volunteers make this event a success. Over 150 volunteers were at Friday's event to help out at different stations. 

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