Artists Helping the Homeless (AHH), was founded as a 501(c)3 by artist and gallery owner Kar Woo in February 2008 with the goal of selling art to support a Sunday night meal program for homeless individuals in the Plaza/Midtown area of Kansas City. In 2009, nearby Saint Luke’s Plaza Hospital called a meeting of local emergency and social service agencies to address the burgeoning number of homeless cases.
At the suggestion of their unhoused patients, they invited Woo. To fill a gap in the local safety net primarily involving transportation, Woo created a social service unlike those existing in the Kansas City area. AHH brings a unique approach by starting with the individual and drawing upon a wide network of providers to tailor a diverse menu of services to address issues that led to or resulted from being homeless. This collaborative approach allows AHH to meet people where they are, often in facilities of collaborating agencies. By removing barriers and improving efficiency of the local safety net, AHH helps individuals, one person at a time; improves treatment and reduces recidivism for safety net providers.
As Woo grew more invested in helping the Kansas City homeless population, AHH grew away from its artistic beginnings, quickly becoming the “safety net for the safety net,” a sought-after organizational partner for area hospitals, social service agencies, and substance abuse treatment programs serving the homeless. Our communities benefit when formerly homeless individuals realize stable jobs, housing and contribute to the very services they once relied upon. AHH’s goal is for people to thrive, not merely survive. AHH is committed to helping Kansas City’s social services network serve homeless individuals more quickly, cost-efficiently, and with ever greater respect by removing barriers to treatment and services and customizing support for the individual.
Today, AHH is a full-fledged social service organization providing discharge planning and execution, transitional and supportive housing, and general assistance program (GAP) services for homeless individuals in Clay, Cass, Platte, and Jackson Counties in Missouri and Johnson, Wyandotte, and Douglas Counties in Kansas. AHH served 1,726 unduplicated individuals in 2022, including housing 218 of those individuals through its supportive and transitional housing programs.