Faces of Homelessness Panel
JEFFERSON CITY - The Governor's Committee to End Homelessness (GCEH) sponsored a Faces of Homelessness Panel at the state capitol Wednesday.
The panel was held in honor of National Homelessness Awareness Week, which continues until November 20th. The purpose of Homelessness Awareness Week is to educate local communities about the reality of homelessness in Missouri.
Each of the three speakers that spoke Wednesday represented one type of homelessness. Kathy Kerbey spoke about generational homelessness and about how everyone in her family was "taught" to be homeless.
"The only thing we knew was what it felt like to be homeless," Kerbey said.
Candy Meyer, like all the women, say family and friends were the biggest thing that helped her get back on her feet.
"My parents forgave me...they knew I made some bad decisions, but they still forgave me," Meyer said.
She also described the hardships she faced when she was freed from jail and entered homelessness.
"I came out with just a t-shirt and jeans, nothing else," Meyer said.
Veronica Odums was a single parent who was homeless for five years in Kansas City. She says she thinks it is important to educate others on homelessness because not everyone knows "what homeless looks like".
"People look at me in a double-breasted suit and may never know I was homeless," Odums said.
The committee also hopes to encourage citizens and local organizations to help address this issue and become more involved in community programs that provide solutions.
This panel was also a chance for the public to ask any questions they may have had about homelessness.
The Governor's Committee to End Homelessness is also sponsoring a Homelessness Awareness Day being held all day Friday at the capitol in Jefferson City.
According to the committee, close to 9,000 people in Missouri are homeless. They say this number does not take into account the number of "underrepresented" homeless men and women.
"There are many people who call home a friend or family's couch or spare bedroom, but that person is considered to be homeless as well," said Committee Co-Chair Lindsay Wallace.
To see the homeless population in every state, click here.