Kansas seeks to expand housing program for mentally ill

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TOPEKA — Kansas officials are offering an unconventional housing program to mentally ill homeless people that they hope will ease overcrowding at state hospitals.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the state Department for Aging and Disability Services is considering offering the Housing First program beyond Wichita, Shawnee County and Wyandotte County. The program deviates from traditional housing assistance programs because it has no curfew and sobriety requirements.

Melissa Bogart works in housing employment and benefits for the department. She says the program has been effective in Wichita, which has the state’s largest homeless population.

The department secured legislative support last year to maintain the three existing programs. It’s seeking an additional $250,000 to help homeless communities in other parts of the state.

More than 240 people in the program have found a permanent home.

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