- Providing aid with respect
- Providing advocacy for those seeking to leave the street
- Raising awareness of homeless issues in Kansas City
- Working with, rather than duplicating what others do
- Addressing underlying causes
Bringing together local artists, art students and the community through events and activities to achieve our mission. We work with other agencies and entities to identify need and to provide aid and service efficiently, recognizing the sum is greater than its parts.
Artists Helping the Homeless operates under five basic principles:
- Know those with whom we work
- Respect their boundaries
- Listen, provide support, encouragement and assistance
- Create efficiency, not duplication in existing services
- Reduce the need and cost of care of the homeless
Artists Helping the Homeless, Inc., was founded by Kar Y. Woo in February 2008 and obtained 501(c)3 status to fund a Sunday night meal program for homeless in the Plaza/Midtown area through the sale of art. Woo had encountered the homeless while walking his dog in the park behind his store. When one Sunday night he noticed MNU students serving the homeless dinner, he joined them. As relationships grew, he learned of the needs and challenges of the homeless. He realized many could be address through existing community resources before they became a costly, and sometimes painful, emergency and had some success.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines a homeless person as someone who is:
- sleeping in an emergency shelter;
- sleeping in places not meant for human habitation, such as cars, parks, sidewalks, or abandoned or condemned buildings;
- spending a short time (30 consecutive days or less) in a hospital or other institution, but ordinarily sleeping in the types of places mentioned above;
- living in transitional/supportive housing but having come from streets or emergency shelters;
- being evicted within a week from a private dwelling unit and having no subsequent residence identified and lacking the resources and support networks needed to obtain access to housing; or
- being discharged from an institution and having no subsequent residence identified and lacking the resources and support networks needed to obtain access to housing.
Homelessness is caused by a number of factors, including:
- Poverty and the lack of affordable housing: current levels of housing costs, coupled with low-wage jobs and the recent economic downturn, push even the working poor out of their homes;
- Divorce, domestic violence and lack of family support;
- Chronic health problems;
- Mental illness;
- Drug and alcohol addiction; and
- Natural disasters.
Due to the circumstances of homelessness, it is very difficult to come up with a reliable number of people who experience homelessness. According to the Alliance’s most recent estimate, approximately 744,000 people are homeless on any given night. Read more in Homelessness Counts. Information on the last annual estimate of 2.5 to 3.5 millions people experience homelessness per year, is available in Homelessness: Programs and the People They Serve.
Resource data from National Alliance to End Homelessness