Believing helping the homeless helps our community, we seek to reduce the need and cost of homeless care in Kansas City by: 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 existing services Addressing underlying causes We facilitate the path off the street by helping the homeless identify and access resources to meet immediate needs and address underlying issues. The program is unique in several ways: Client Oriented: The BE THE CHANGE Program works with clients where they are, literally and figuratively, and uses the individual, rather than institutions as its starting point.Continuum of Care: Accompanying clients throughout their path off the street improves coordination and consistency of service. Follow-up meetings provide encouragement, support, and allow plans to be adjusted as clients progress.True Collaboration: Focused on improving the collective impact of the local safety net, the program addresses individual and systemic challenges, thus improving outcomes and efficiency for other agencies.Not Facility Based: Instead of making clients come to us, we meet them where they are: on the streets, in hospitals, care facilities, police stations, homeless and recovery services, shelters and transitional living houses --- frequently in facilities of other agencies.Effective with Chronic Homeless: The intensive street outreach that stays in touch with this mobile and hard to reach clientele and follow-up meetings that provide ongoing support and engagement has proven effective with the chronic homeless and at risk young adult homeless.Return on Investment: By providing access to more appropriate resources and, ultimately helping clients off the street, the program has saved hospitals, ambulance, police and judicial services over $10,000,000 or over $5 for each $1 invested in the program.
MO - Jackson County Urban Core
Kar Y Woo
BE THE CHANGE, intensive street outreach, dynamic care coordination, collective impact, Helping the Homeless, Helping the Community, homeless, hospital, health care, transportation
Also Known As
BE THE CHANGE Program
3625 Warwick Blvd
Kansas City, MO 64111 USA
Homeless Services/Centers (P85)
Hot Line, Crisis Intervention (F40)
Personal Social Services (P50)
IRS Filing Requirement
This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.
How does this organization make a difference?
Self-reported by organization
In 2015, the BE THE CHANGE Program helped over 1,840 people from all segments of Kansas City's homeless population identify and access a wide range of services, individually tailored to address issues that led to or resulted from being homeless. Its longitudinal, client-oriented approach proved effective with more challenging chronic homeless cases, causing it to be dubbed ""The Safety Net for the Safety Net."" Working with homeless clients and the agencies that serve them, the program creates innovative, collaborative solutions to individual and systemic challenges. Three 2015 initiatives helped over 200 homeless off the street. Save Our Seniors secured nursing home placement for 130 area homeless, often chronic homeless individuals with disabilities or chronic illnesses that relied heavily on local hospitals and emergency services. With better nutrition, hygiene and health care, their reliance is substantially reduced. Respite Care Housing (Bodhi House) eliminated the need to return to the street while waiting to be admitted to treatment programs and housing. Case workers from collaborating agencies provided wrap around services. Residents participate in community service, physical fitness, coping skills, social reintegration and AA/NA/SMART activities. Over 80% of Bodhi residents progressed to treatment or housing. Judicial/Jail Diversion: The program's success with clients in drug and mental health courts prompted prosecutors and judges to explore applying the longitudinal approach to homeless judicial cases. Pilot programs in Cass and Jackson Counties are being expanded. The program also partners with the Kansas Rainbow Center and the new KCMO Community Crisis Center. The program's care coordination, street outreach and continuum support improves outcomes and efficiency for area homeless, collaborating agencies and local hospitals, judicial and emergency services.
Self-reported by organization
What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?
Be the Change Program
Our core program reduces the need and cost of care for the homeless by helping clients identify and access appropriate resources and facilitating their path off the street. Using the individual, rather than institutions as its starting point, the program draws on evidence-based practices and tailors services to the client, accompanying them throughout their path off the street. The program improves the collective impact of Kansas City's homeless services safety net by filling gaps with a wide range of services including transportation, advocacy, housing and care coordination. An intensive outreach meets clients where they are, literally and figuratively. A client-oriented approach tailors services to meet immediate needs and address underlying issues. Coordinating these services reduces fragmentation and duplication and allows multiple issues to be addressed concurrently. Working with clients throughout their path off the street improves focus, consistency and engagement.
Long term success is reduced need and cost of care for the homeless. Lacking resources and transportation, homeless people defer medical and other matters until they become a crisis. Often they turn to local emergency services that, while nearby, may not be the most appropriate or least expensive. In addition, homeless people with substance disorders and mental illness frequently cycle between the streets, jails and emergency rooms. The Kansas City, Missouri Police Department reports a typical homeless call costs community emergency and judicial services $5,390. Eliminating 1 call a day equates to a $1.7 mln savings. That goal is accomplished by addressing individual and systemic issues to improve outcomes and efficiency of our clients and the agencies that serve them. That's done by filling gaps to facilitate access to and adherence with programs, to eliminate the need to return to the street and to coordinate care throughout the path off the street.
Each day, staff members log client activity. The primary purpose is to document and communicate client activity and issues and to schedule follow-up meetings or services. The logs are combined and summarized each month providing output statistics such as number of unduplicated clients, rides, assessment and follow-up meetings, detox or treatment enrollments, transitional and long term housing arranged and direct support provided. This data is broken down further by client, source/destination and type of support provided. The status of individuals (retention rates) is compiled periodically. Individual case histories are the ultimate measure. The program estimates the resulting cost savings by multiplying the number of people that got off the street by $5,390. This estimate is considered conservative because it is based on 2009 costs and does not factor the ongoing savings of getting a people that are subjects of homeless calls on a weekly basis or more often off the street.
The program has saved community emergency services over $12,500,000 in its short 6 year life. That estimate is conservative. One hospital executive told staff the program save them $1.7 mln in 2014 and attributed an 80% reduction in non-emergent homeless ED case to it. Individual successes are reason for the savings. In 2015, two program initiatives, Bodhi House and Save Our Seniors, helped over 200 people, many of whom were chronically homeless, get off the street. During year, the BE THE CHANGE program assisted to 1,841 people by providing over 4,000 rides, having over 3,500 assessment and follow-up meetings, arranging housing, assisting with ID's, meds or other items required for gaining or retaining housing or programs and "being there". This also helps collaborating hospitals and agencies. The program has become many agencies discharge planner for both its clients and the agency's more challenge homeless cases.
Human Services, General/Other
Bodhi House (Respite Group Home)
This 11 bed midtown facility was added to the BE THE CHANGE Program Tool Box in 2015 to provide respite housing and basic needs for chronic homeless men wanting to get off the street. Away from the chaos of the street, residents work with case workers provided by referring agencies. House staff support the case managers with a holistic approach that includes group exercise program at local gyms, AA/NA and SMART meetings, community service and coping skills training. Compliance with court and treatment plans is monitored and rides to medical, legal and other appointments provided/ A pilot program utilizing Salvation Army MOSOS to provided respite housing for this population to bridge time needed for entry into treatment and housing programs or fill gaps between steps in recovery (wait times for treatment can run 2-8 weeks). The goal was to avoid relapse and maintains contact with this highly mobile clientele to improve efficiency. When MOSOS closed, Bodhi House was opened.
The objective of Bodhi House is to assist chronic homeless men in getting off the street and, thus, reducing their reliance on community emergency services. Long term success is for clients to realize and retain housing. For many, Bodhi House is a threshold to getting their life back on track. For others, it is a critical factor in staying on plan. In a local hospital, the young man agreed to try Bodhi House for a week when discharged. At Bodhi, he worked with the staff and case manager, participated in activities and surprised everyone when he reported he'd ""been sober for two months for the first time in years."" He subsequently moved into a transitional living facility, enrolled in college and remains in contact the program. Recently, he wrote ""You've given me a chance to get my life back on track…you've given me time because without you my time may have very well run out on this earth."" Organizationally, the goal is for Bodhi House to be self-sustaining.
Bodhi House is part of the BE THE CHANGE Program Tool Box. Like that program, daily logs record client progress. These logs are summarized by service and client. In addition, input is routinely received from case workers and other agencies working with residents as well as the residents. The individual resident's progress is the primary measure of success. Because Bodhi House is part of the wider BE THE CHANGE Program, the program usually continues to assist the client as he progresses toward reintegration.
Bodhi House opened in February 2015. During 2015, 98 men resided there on 123 occasions. The average stay was 3 weeks. Over 80% of the stays resulted in the men moving on to a recovery or housing program, a high success rate for this population that primarily consists of chronic homeless and alienated young adults, potentially Kansas City's next generation chronic homeless. The 24/7 monitored facility provided the BE THE CHANGE Program a place for clients awaiting admission to their next step in recovery. Bodhi House helped collaborating agencies. Case workers realized improved efficiency. They no longer had to 'chase' clients who were on the street and could count on clients being clean and sober for appointments. The court system could count on residents attending scheduled hearings and meetings. Medical providers could count of residents adhering to treatment plans. Financially, program revenues covered 80% of facility costs the first year.
Other Named Groups
Substance Abusers (Drug/Alcohol Abusers)
Clean, sober and ready to be on their own, the homeless find limited housing choices due to lack of funds for deposits, a history with evictions, repossessions and legal issues or inability to pay rent during a lay-off or reduced hours. That often mean neighbors who use alcohol or drugs. Having no or only a small circle of supportive friends adds to the challenge for long-term sobriety, increased financial well being and stability. Finnegan Place, a 18 unit apartment building in midtown, provides a monitored clean and sober environment with peer support. The BE THE CHANGE Program provides support and rides to work, school, appointments and AA meetings as well as coping skills classes, community service, physical fitness and social programs. Case workers from collaborating agencies can efficiently provide wrap around services to multiple clients. Finnegan Place can house 40 residents in 6 two-bedroom and 12 one-bedroom newly renovated all-electric apartments.
Finnegan Place opened September 2016 following a successful 5 month pilot program.
Success is measured by individual resident progress, including staying clean and sober. Residents are participants of the BE THE CHANGE Program. Ultimately, residents will gain personal and financial stability that allows them to move on into housing that is conducive to their recovery.
One of the initial pilot residents has resided at Finnegan for six months while remaining clean and sober. He is employed and, with the help of a payee to assist him with his finances, is building his credit history, including staying current on rent.
Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General
Meal Programs (Sunday and Thursday)
The two meal programs are an integral part of the BE THE CHANGE Program's intensive street outreach. The Sunday in the park (outdoor) dinner in midtown KCMO and Thursday sit down meal at the Center of Grace in Olathe are a chance to meet or catch up with area homeless. These meals provide an opportunity to build trust and rapport with area homeless and for the homeless to express concerns for others who may be in need, or to request assistance including help entering detox or treatment programs. The Sunday meal serves 60-120 servings, rain or shine. In Olathe, 250-300 servings are provided. Meals are prepared and served by volunteers usually from local churches and synagogues.
These BE THE CHANGE Program resulted from and applies the principles learned in the Sunday Meal Program. The meals, especially the Sunday meal, demonstrate the BtC staff are available. One client told researchers that conducted a six-month study of the program, "The difference is they are out here with us." A hospital social worker said something similar, "I was excited to have someone who would be able to do more within the community." The meal programs extend the reach of not only the BtC Program, but case workers at collaborating agencies. These programs have led to hundreds of people getting the help they need and get off the street. These conversations have also led to systemic needs being identified, addressed with collaborating agencies and the introduction of additional services.
While the primary measurement is number of servings, the true benefit is meeting and staying in contact with the local homeless population. The latter is measured by overall program results.
It was a warm spring afternoon. As the serving tables were being set up, a man walked up to Kar Woo and said he'd heard that Woo could help him. He wanted to go to detox. Woo did a brief intake, made a couple calls and introduced the man to another BtC staff member who drove him to a detox facility that was waiting for him. Within a half an hour, the man had taken a big first step. That story has been repeated in varying forms regularly throughout the years.
Human Services, General/Other
MO - Jackson County Urban Core
The BE THE CHANGE Program continues to develop and building a solid foundation while addressing community challenges. Capital Campaign: The top priority is to refurbish and retire the debt on the recently acquired Finnegan Place. Projects include replacing the roof, adding a laundry room, meeting rooms and storage facilities. The drive goal is $500,000. Hand-Up Funds: When homeless clients can't afford boots or tools needed for a job, help with rent to keep their housing, school supplies and other seemingly simple things in order to take the next step; a hand-up can be provided through small gifts set earmarked to the AHH Hand Up Fund.. Handicap Accessible Shuttle: The addition of a handicap accessible shuttle bus improves program capability and efficiency. Currently, the program is unable to accommodate motorized wheelchairs and must make multiple trips to take Bodhi House and Finnegan Place residents to off-site programs. The cost of an appropriately equipped bus is $80,000.Board Members: The Board is seeking to add 2-3 members interested in fostering innovation, collaboration and oversight. Specific areas of need are property management, management/accounting, and fund raising/public relations.
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Kar Y Woo
Kar. Woo obtained a Bachelors in Psychology with work toward a Masters in Counseling at the KU before starting a business when his family immigrated to the US. For nearly 30 years, he operated a retail gift, fine art and furniture business with residential and commercial projects throughout the midwest. In 2010, Mr. Woo closed his business to tackle the community problem of the need and cost of care for the homeless. With a grant from the Saint Luke's Foundation, he launched the BE THE CHANGE Program. He spent the last 6½ years on the street 7 nights a week working with the homeless and agencies that serve them. He has become acutely familiar with local health, emergency, homeless and recovery services. He has Missouri Recovery Support Specialist accreditation. Today, he is well known and highly respected by the target population and wider community. He has twice made presentations to the National Health Care for the Homeless Conference, the Kansas Conference on Poverty, the Missouri Leadership Challenge and received numerous local honors. Kar Woo says his life prepared him for the BE THE CHANGE Program. After attending school in Kowloon, he came to the US to study at Waldorf College in Iowa, then the University of Iowa and KU. Woo became accustomed to asking questions to understand campus language and customs. While his apartment building burned, he found himself on the street and, uninsured, owing for the furnishings the fire destroyed. Starting and operating his business also provided a wealth of personal and business lessons. He first encountered the homeless when he moved his store near the Plaza. Walking his dog in Mill Creek Park one Sunday night, he saw MNU students talking and serving homeless people dinner. He joined in, heard their stories and realized he could help them identify and access resources to address their issues much as he solved clients and business issues. His experiences began to come together.
Mid America Regional Council (retired)
Term: Jan 2011 - Dec 2016
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Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?
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Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?
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Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?
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Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?
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Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?