Advocates for the homeless say people without a home may want to avoid Kansas.
Services available to people hitting hard times are minimal and often incomplete, said Rebecca Dickson Simmons, divisional social services director for the Salvation Army in Kansas and western Missouri.
Rebecca Dickson Simmons
"It's very tough to be homeless in Kansas," Simmons said. "You're better off going to another state."
Sandy Swank, director of homeless services for Wichita's Inter-Faith Ministries, agreed. "I think it is tough," Swank said. "The continuum of care is so disjointed and disconnected. There are no services in the outlying areas, so people migrate to the cities where there are services. It really does create a burden."
No one keeps an official tally of the Kansas homeless population, but those who work the homeless shelters' doors say they have seen an increase in the last year.
The departments of Commerce and Housing and Social and Rehabilitation Services are supporting a new coalition that will address homelessness in the state, commerce spokeswoman Sally Lunsford said.
From Oct. 30 to April 1 in Lawrence, the Salvation Army, 946 N.H., provides a place to stay from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. From there, homeless can visit the Community Drop-In Center, 214 W. 10th, from 8:30 a.m. until noon.
The Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen, across the street from the drop-in center, and the Salvation Army take turns providing lunch. But from after lunch until 9 p.m., the homeless are on their own.
"There's a problem because there's no place to go," said Capt. Sharon Young of the Salvation Army in Lawrence. "We don't have any shelters except for temporary ones."